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Mental health impact of diabetes highlighted by study

By Editor
14th November 2017
Charity, Education Research

Three in five people who have diabetes experience emotional or mental health problems as a result of their condition, according to research.

A total of 8,500 people of different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds from across the UK shared their experiences of living with diabetes today, in one of the largest surveys ever carried out by Diabetes UK.

The findings showed that emotional wellbeing stood out as a major factor for respondents, with three in five (64 per cent) saying they often or sometimes feel down because of their condition.

One in three (33 per cent) said diabetes got in the way of them or a family member doing things they wanted to do. Alarmingly only three in 10 (30 per cent) said they definitely felt in control of their diabetes.

The research also found that 19 per cent of participants had used support or counselling from a trained professional to help them manage their condition, and nearly a third (32 per cent) had at some point relied on self-help materials including books, videos and resources found online.

The results of this research have been included in Diabetes UK’s Future of Diabetes report, which was launched at a Parliament event to mark World Diabetes Day.

The charity is urging the Government to radically improve health outcomes for people with diabetes by committing to sustain transformation funding at current levels of £44 million until at least 2021.

Chris Askew, Diabetes UK’s chief executive, said: “Diabetes affects more than 4.5 million people in the UK, and is the fastest-growing health crisis of our time. It can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and lower limb amputations. This new research brings to light the isolation that can come from managing an invisible condition, and how detrimental living with diabetes can be to a person’s emotional wellbeing without the right support.

“Effective diabetes care requires that a person’s emotional needs are taken into account alongside their physical care needs. We want to see a system where specialist support – from people who understand diabetes – is made available to those who need it.

“But in order to achieve that, we need to see sustained funding of £44 million for the diabetes transformation programme, which sets out to improve the treatment and care for people with diabetes. Investing now will not only allow us to reap substantial financial and social benefits in the future, but more importantly it will help people to live well with diabetes today.”

Lis Warren was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1965 when she was 13 years old. She suffered with an eating disorder as a result of her diabetes for many years. It was only eight years ago that she received help. She said: “When I was diagnosed, diabetes was seen as a medical condition but there was little understanding of the effect it has on mental health, so psychological support was unavailable. I only went to hospital once a year to review my blood glucose control.

“I started struggling with food when I was a teenager. When I look back now, I had an eating disorder. I was having seizures from low blood sugar when I was routinely eating insufficient carbohydrate to lose weight.”

Lis now spends her time campaigning about diabetes and volunteering. She gets lots of support talking to others who live with diabetes and struggle with their food.

To read the report, click here.

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