Anxiety & Diabetes: Conquering Fear, Taking Control

339627_5827Imagine that you’ve always felt out of place in a crowd—even in a group of friends. Now, your new diabetes diagnosis makes you stand out even more, and you find yourself avoiding social situations.

Or maybe you were comfortable socially—even a bit of a butterfly. But you don’t want to be labeled a sick person, and the lifestyle adjustments that came with your diabetes diagnosis makes you self-conscious.

Whether or not you have an anxiety disorder, a diabetes diagnosis is enough to make anyone anxious. A diagnosis means a lifestyle one-eighty:

  • Have to change your diet
  • Needing to check your blood sugar regularly
  • You may have to give yourself injections or take oral medication
  • It’s possible that people will treat you differently

Your peers might ostracize you, especially if you are diagnosed as a child; even if they don’t, the fear of rejection may be enough to cause social withdrawal.

Anxiety disorders do more than limit your social sphere—anxiety disorders may affect your concentration, attention, and memory. When you’re worried about future events, what to say next, or what others are thinking, you can’t give your full attention to the present. People with anxiety disorders often have problems with lateness, breaking appointments (either because they forget or because they are too anxious to attend), and retaining information, like someone’s name or basic instructions.

For people with diabetes, anxiety disorders can be extremely problematic. For one, there’s the social withdrawal. You’re navigating a new and frightening world, and without a support network, the future can look bleak. Then, there are the cognitive and physical consequences. Extreme anxiety might make you forget to check your blood sugar—or it may dull your senses so much that you don’t notice that you’re experiencing a low blood sugar reaction.

If you suffer from an anxiety disorder and diabetes, it’s important to listen to your body and express how you feel too empathetic friends and loved ones. If you’re feeling insecure, tell supportive family members what they can do to make you more comfortable. Some individuals may react negatively, but some won’t.

One of the best things you can do for your anxiety disorder and your overall health is to learn coping skills. Find activities that calm you—it could be taking a walk, meditating, reading—whatever works best.

Where the best thing you can do for your diabetes is address your anxiety disorder by going to a psychotherapist. They can help you find the roots of your anxiety disorder and recommend the healthiest course of action to resolve your anxiety issues.

How do you manage extreme anxiety about your diabetes? Let us know in the comments section!

Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

For more information go to his website or Facebook Page or set up a free 30-minute phone consultation to see if talk therapy is right for you.

Medical Disclaimer:
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Before making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.

One thought on “Anxiety & Diabetes: Conquering Fear, Taking Control

  1. Hi Eliot,

    Your post is fantastic! As a psychiatrist, I’m sure that you’re helping a lot of readers and followers. I’m following you on twitter 😉

    I totally agree with you “It’s important to listen to your body and express how you feel too empathetic friends and loved ones”

    Keep the good work

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