Survey reveals the despair that diabetics can encounter

by Barbara Hewitt on November 15, 2017

One in five people living with diabetes in the UK uses counselling from a trained professional to help them manage their condition, new research has found.

Just 30% feel in full control of their diabetes and 32% have at some point relied on self-help material such as books, videos and online resources in an attempt to find help.



The research from charity Diabetes UK also shows that 64% sometimes feel down because of their diabetes and the study concludes it is affecting their well-being and more should be done to offer help.

The study, carried out to mark World Diabetes Day, is one of the largest surveys carried out by Diabetes UK, involving 8,500 people of different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds from across the nation.

The charity is urging the Government to radically improve health outcomes for people with diabetes by committing to sustain transformation funding at current levels of £44 million, until at least 2021.

‘Diabetes affects more than 4.5 million people in the UK, and is the fastest growing health crisis of our time. It can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and lower limb amputations. This new research brings to light the isolation that can come from managing an invisible condition, and how detrimental living with diabetes can be to a person’s emotional wellbeing without the right support,’ said Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK.

‘Effective diabetes care requires that a person’s emotional needs are taken into account alongside their physical care needs. We want to see a system where specialist support from people who understand diabetes is made available to those who need it,’ he explained.

‘But in order to achieve that, we need to see sustained funding of £44 million for the diabetes transformation programme, which sets out to improve the treatment and care for people with diabetes. Investing now will not only allow us to reap substantial financial and social benefits in the future, but more importantly it will help people to live well with diabetes today,’ he added.

One woman, Lis Warren, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1965 when she was 13 years old suffered with an eating disorder as a result of her diabetes for many years but it was only eight years ago that she received help.

‘When I was diagnosed, diabetes was seen as a medical condition but there was little understanding of the effect it has on mental health, so psychological support was unavailable. I only went to hospital once a year to review my blood glucose control,’ she said.

‘I started struggling with food when I was a teenager. When I look back now, I had an eating disorder. I was having seizures from low blood sugar when I was routinely eating insufficient carbohydrate to lose weight,’ she explained.

Lis now spends her time campaigning about diabetes and volunteering. She gets lots of support talking to others who live with diabetes and struggle with their food.

‘I didn’t speak to anyone about how diabetes had affected my mental health for 40 years. I could easily have died from constantly bingeing and dieting and I feel very lucky to be alive, and remain well, because I finally got support,’ she added.