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How diabetes can impact your mental health

How diabetes can impact your mental health

For the 29 million Americans living with diabetes, it's common to experience mental health issues.

From monitoring her blood sugar levels to inspecting every food label, Emily Viall said managing her Type 1 diabetes is a never-ending and overwhelming process.

"You're making so many decisions every day," Viall said.

That's not all she's faced since being diagnosed at 14 years old.

"I had body image issues, anxiety, depression, all of this coincided to make a perfect storm," she said.

It turns out, Emily's mental health issues aren't unusual for people with diabetes.

"It is something that is very common in those with diabetes and it's nothing to be ashamed of," she said.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are 20 percent more likely to have anxiety and twice as likely to have depression.

A study published in the BMJ found female patients between 12 to 19 years old with Type 1 diabetes are 2.4 times more likely to have an eating disorder.

Dr. William Cefalu said doctors often overlook these issues, leading to additional stress on diabetic patients.

"This may impair their ability to manage the disease. If you don't manage the disease appropriately, it will lead to complications," he explained.

The ADA has launched a new training program to increase awareness and improve treatment.

"We've partnered with the American Psychological Association to form a continuum medical education program to help mental health providers understand the complexities of the disease," he said.

Viall now goes to a therapist and psychiatrist, which she said has helped her get her anxiety and depression under control.

As a diabetes nurse educator herself, she encourages patients to seek the psychosocial treatment they may need, too.

"I'm a big proponent of therapy and I think the medications certainly helped," she said.

So far 120 mental health providers have gone through this new training. They'll be listed in a new registry coming out in January.


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