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Avoiding Diabetes Burnout

Are you having difficulty managing your diabetes? Do you sometimes feel that your diabetes is controlling you, and not the other way around? Does it occasionally feel next to impossible to self-manage the various tasks associated with diabetes (diet, exercise, and glucose monitoring, in addition to your other daily obligations? Rest assured, you are not alone and help is available! You may be suffering from diabetes burnout, a condition manifested by such feelings as frustration, anger, sadness, apathy, and hopelessness. Diabetes, unlike many other chronic health conditions, is a 24/7 situation. You don’t get to take a “day off” and put diabetes “on hold”. It can be quite overwhelming, and without recognition of the situation, may worsen your overall health.

According to an online website, the Global Diabetes Community defines diabetes burnout as “… the state of disillusion, frustration and somewhat submission to the condition of diabetes”. This level of distress and depression can have serious consequences. Persons with diabetes have been known to stop checking their blood sugars, stop taking their medications, and start avoiding routine doctor visits. Such behaviors can lead to uncontrolled diabetes and put them at higher risk for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure.

Speak with your healthcare provider. They can evaluate you for signs of burnout and start a plan of care to support you in your time of need. Many providers may use the Diabetes Distress Scale to learn more about your level of frustration. It has two simple questions (as follows) which can give your provider insights into how frustrated you may be at this moment:

(1) How overwhelmed are you feeling by the demands of living with diabetes and

(2) Are you feeling that you are failing with the prescribed diabetes regimen.

Based on your answers, there is a more detailed 17 item questionnaire to further pinpoint areas of distress (see link below).

Once your concerns are addressed, you can begin a plan of action to minimize your distress and get back in control of your diabetes. Start with small measurable goals to gain confidence, and enlist family and friends, as well as coworkers for additional support. Consider joining a diabetes support group. Finally, make attempts to identify and then remove any obstacles in your life that are interfering with your diabetes. In time, you will indeed be back in control!

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