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The technical name might be diabetes mellitus, but one clinician has dubbed it "diabetes overwhelmus."
"A diagnosis of diabetes requires a patient to make hundreds of decisions a day related to the disease. It can all be overwhelming," says Richard Rubin, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Rubin tells the story of his son, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 20 years ago at the age of 7. "He told me recently that he hasn’t gone 15 minutes without thinking of his diabetes since then," Rubin says. "That’s a heavy burden for anyone."
Diabetes is an unusual disease because it requires patients to manage their own disease 99% of the time, he adds.
The disease requires total lifestyle change, regardless of the age of the patient. An adult diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes has to change diet, exercise, and general health habits. Children diagnosed with Type 1 can involve the whole family in their care, considering how important it is to eat the proper diet and take medications properly.
It’s not surprising that many diabetics and their families begin to suffer psychological setbacks, sometimes even serious psychological disorders that become comorbidities of their disease.
Among the most common psychological effects of diabetes are:
In the following articles (below and p. 44), Diabetes Management examines the unique psychological conditions often associated with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and some ways to treat them.