Mental Health Care For Diabetics

Someone very dear to me has diabetes.  She has also been dealing with a lot of stress over the last year or so, and struggles with depression.  While her doctor has been trying to help her, there really aren’t a lot of resources available that specifically provide mental health care for diabetics.

Do you know anyone with diabetes?  Do they struggle sometimes with their mood?  If they seem depressed and anxious, they’re certainly not alone.  Up to 30% of diabetics are depressed at any given time, depending on how it is assessed.

Credit: steptohealth.com

Depression is a big deal for those with chronic illness.  Not only does it steal the fun out of life, but it plays havoc with motivation to keep up with behavior change.  Depression makes it really hard to eat right, to exercise, to take medication properly.

If a diabetic is struggling with depression there is definitely treatment available.  However, that treatment may be hard to find.  Ideally, the person or group treating the diabetes will be able to direct treatment for diabetes.

A group at the University of Massachusetts Medical School just published a study that showed that a lot of diabetes care clinics don’t have good access to mental health services.  Even the highest-ranked care centers didn’t have mental health professionals on staff.

Why is this?  The biggest reason is probably money.  Mental health services in this country are NOT a priority for insurance companies or the government.  Coverage is spotty and there are limits on the number of visits covered.

For a very common problem that has a huge impact on quality of life, limiting treatment is very shortsighted.  Depression impacts diabetics’ health in a number of ways.  For instance, diabetics suffering from depression have more complications, have a harder time controlling their blood sugars, are not as likely to take their medications properly and are more likely to die.

If you know and love a diabetic, make sure to keep an eye on their mood.  If they seem depressed, encourage them to talk to their doctor about it.  See if your loved one will let you go to a doctor’s visit with them.  This will give you an opportunity to talk directly to the doctor about your concerns.

If your loved one needs mental health services, the American Diabetic Association just launched a directory which you can access at this link: https://professional.diabetes.org/mhp_listing.  This link is a searchable directory of mental health providers with experience in treating diabetics.

This directory is brand new and doesn’t contain a lot of names.  The nearest provider to where I practice outside Cleveland is 100 miles away :-/  But hopefully it will grow!

Be persistent in seeking treatment for depression and anxiety.  If you or a loved one has diabetes, treatment will certainly improve quality of life.  It may be the difference between life and death!

QUESTION: Is there a diabetic in your life suffering with depression?  What has been your experience in seeking treatment?

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