Diabetes can be a stressful disease to manage – especially when someone is first diagnosed with it. That's what Carmen Girard discovered when she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in November 2007. Although the disease runs in Carmen's family, her diagnosis came as an unpleasant surprise.
"I work in finance, which is chaotic at the best of times," says Carmen. "So, my diagnosis added a new element of stress to my already- hectic life as a wife, mother and career woman."
In the few months following Carmen's diagnosis, she's made many adjustments and improvements to her eating habits and lifestyle. "My diabetes meal plan keeps me on the right track. I test my blood sugar level regularly. And, on top of that, my husband and kids provide support when I need it."
Carmen has also found effective ways to manage life's everyday stresses, without using food as a crutch. Yet, for many others with Type 2 diabetes, the adjustments aren't that easy to make. The disease itself requires careful and constant management, which can take a toll on individuals and family members. Plus, diabetes can trigger many serious health complications – like heart disease, nerve damage and vision loss, to name but a few.
People living with diabetes often feel stressed and the DAWN (Diabetes Attitudes Wishes and Needs) Study, which was initiated in 2001, provides insight into some of the reasons why.
The DAWN study addressed the perceptions and attitudes of individuals with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Among the findings, 40% of respondents reported being stressed by their diabetes diagnosis, while another 50% worried their diabetes would get worse. Respondents reported that after years of living with diabetes, they still worried about health complications and the social and emotional burdens of managing the disease.1
It's a well-established fact that stress can take a significant toll on the mind and body. While you can't avoid stress altogether, you can learn how to control it and minimize its impact on your overall health. It starts by understanding the very nature of stress.