Issue: September 2016
Section: Diabetes views
Diabetes Distress:a real and normal part of diabetes
Living successfully with type 1 or type 2 diabetes requires the very large task of managing a serious chronic condition. The tasks associated with diabetes can be complex and demanding and most people in their life journey with diabetes report great frustration with the burden of the disease. These physical and emotional demands generate emotional distress that can include worry, fear, sadness and anger regarding the emergence of complications, hypoglycaemic episodes, unpredictable blood glucose and feelings of ‘diabetes burnout’.
Diabetes Distress is distinct from clinical depression, but high levels of distress is linked to poor glycaemic control and problematic self-care behaviours. Diabetes distress often leads to the thought pattern of “I just can’t do this anymore” and for the primary diabetes healthcare provider, this is a signal that an open discussion that can help individuals connect all the things they must ‘do’ with all of the emotions a person living with diabetes ‘feels.’
Lawrence Fisher, PhD, from the Department of Family and Community Medicine and the University of California, San Francisco and William Polonsky, PhD, at the Department of Psychiatry, University of San Diego California developed the Diabetes Distress Scales (DDS) for people with type 2 diabetes and the T1DDS for people with type 1 diabetes to help providers and their patients gain a better understanding of the emotional side of diabetes , recognize barriers to care and take steps for overcoming them.
Elizabeth Snouffer, Editor, of Diabetes Voice had the opportunity to speak to Professor Fisher about Diabetes Distress (DD), the value of the Diabetes Distress Scales (DDS) and how healthcare providers can help their people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes by acknowledging emotional distress and giving it some perspective.