Anxiety and negative emotions affect type 2 diabetics ability to manage blood sugar levels

by Barbara Hewitt on December 2, 2016

Negative emotions are jeopardising the ability of people with type 2 diabetes to effectively manage their condition with many living in fear of hypos, new research has found.

A quarter of people with type 2 diabetes feel anxious or fearful about low blood glucose levels, with 42% preferring to have high blood glucose levels instead of risking another hypo, despite this risking life threatening conditions in the future, the research shows.

despair-depressionThe study, funded by pharmaceutical company Sanofi UK, points out that even modest and sustained improved blood glucose control could help prevent almost a million serious medical complications such as kidney disease, foot amputations and blindness.

The UK has the worst type 2 diabetes blood glucose levels in Europe and as a result of the research Sanofi is launching a new campaign dedicated to helping the 52% who find it a challenge to balance their blood glucose levels or who worry about doing so.

‘This research shows that people with type 2 diabetes are making fear driven decisions to prevent low blood glucose levels without considering that high blood glucose levels can have serious implications on their health in the future as well. They need more support in order to be successful at this blood sugar balancing act,’ said Dr Max Pemberton, a GP and psychiatrist at St Anne’s Hospital, London.

The Sanofi research also reveals that negative emotions are stopping people managing their condition. Some 15% of people with type 2 diabetes believe that others think they are to blame and 14% believe that people think they are just greedy.

Some 22% said they blame themselves if they don’t manage their blood sugars effectively and 24% feel they have let themselves down. The study also found that 25% only tell close friends, family or their healthcare professional about their condition and 58% feel self-conscious or avoid injecting in front of other people.

‘It’s clear that those with type 2 diabetes feel judged by a crowd of people who they think blame them for having the condition in the first place. It’s worrying that people feel that they have to hide their condition from others for fear of being criticised,’ Pemberton pointed out.

‘This can lead to them not injecting on time because they wait until no one is around, or making bad food decisions during social occasions or not sticking to their meal time routine, which can have an impact on their blood sugar levels,’ he added.

According to Dr Mike Baxter, medical therapy expert at Sanofi UK, the research shows that there is a need in the UK for better support for people with type 2 diabetes, not just in terms of the medical management of the disease, but also the emotional and psychological aspects of the condition.

‘Instead of this feeling of blame and failure, we want to help them feel motivated to seek the help that they may need. Although the importance of psychological support in helping people to manage their condition is well recognised and the benefits of improved blood glucose control on reducing diabetic complications is well documented, there is a clear lack of adequate psychological support for people with diabetes,’ he explained.

‘Consequently, the level of diabetic control in a large number of people with diabetes in the UK remains unacceptably high, exposing them to high risks of developing preventable diabetic complications,’ he added.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anthony December 2, 2016 at 9:56 am

I wish all Diabetics had the ability to use a CGM for managing their Diabetes. It truly is a shame that it’s so difficult for Type 2’s to get coverage for it. It’s standard of care for Type 1’s. It should be the same for T2’s.


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