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The Darker Side of Diabetes

Mental health education and assessment should be integrated into on-going diabetes health care.

An independent survey of people diagnosed with type 1 and 2 diabetes, commissioned by Ieso Digital Health highlights the scale of stress and mental health problems affecting those living with this chronic condition.

Around 700 people get diagnosed with diabetes every day in the UK. That’s the equivalent of one person every two minutes. This survey, compiled by Ieso Digital Health, the UK’s largest provider of online CBT, shows that people living with diabetes are more likely to experience mental health problems compared with the general population.

About one in four adults in the UK will suffer from a mental health condition each year; however, the Ieso survey found that over half of patients with diabetes (51%) have sought treatment for stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. Three quarters (75%) of young adults (16-34) believe their mental health has been negatively affected by their diabetes.

According to Sarah Bateup, Chief Clinical Officer, Ieso Digital Health Mental health should be considered an integral part of on-going diabetes care. We need to ensure a multifaceted approach including comprehensive assessment for mental health problems, educating patients to recognise stress and mental health problems and encouraging selfcare. Providing effective mental health interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help patients to address the emotional and behavioural aspects of living with a life-long condition such as diabetes.”

Mental health issues can make it more difficult for diabetes sufferers to alter their diet and lifestyle to comply with medical treatment programmes.

Mental health issues linked to diabetes include feelings of loss, stress, anger, panic attacks, mood disorders, depression, anxiety and eating disorders. A depressed person is less likely to adhere to their diabetes medication or monitoring regimens which are necessary for effective management of diabetes, resulting in poor glycaemic control. Phobic symptoms or anxieties related to self-injection of insulin and self-monitoring of blood glucose are common, resulting in further emotional distress. Stress and depression are known to elevate blood glucose levels, even if medication is taken regularly.

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Almost half of people (46%) believe that better awareness would help detect stress and mental health issues, while 43% think discussions of mental health within diabetes-specific appointments would help and that clearer advice from medical bodies would help.

Ieso patient John Riley said “Mentally diabetes really got to me. The term ‘life-long’, hit me hard when I was first diagnosed and facing the prospect of having to inject myself every day for the rest of my life. I felt I was out on my own and got quite down and depressed. The tools the therapist gave me have really helped me to cope and the best thing is I can still access my account and review the things we spoke about. I would really recommend Ieso to others.”

About Ieso’s Survey ‘A Darker Side to Diabetes’: This survey was commissioned by Ieso in April 2018 and conducted by Censuswide, an independent research firm and member of Market Research Society. The survey involved interviews from more than 500 people diagnosed with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, aged 16 years or older.

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