Psychological Support and Counselling for Diabetes

Various forms of psychological support therapies are available
Various forms of psychological support therapies are available

What is depression?

Depression is the name given to the collection of physical and mental symptoms which arise in the presence of consistent low mood, unhealthy lifestyle and lack of motivation.

People with diabetes are recognized by the NHS as having an increased risk of depression.

As well as being a problem in itself, depression can also make diabetes management a more difficult task.

Psychological therapy (psychotherapy)

Psychotherapy is the term for a range of different psychological therapies which include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT); mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and cognitive analytic surgery (CAT).

Psychotherapy is carried out by a trained mental health professional and all sessions are confidential.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that can be helpful in overcoming negative thoughts and behaviour.

The purpose of CBT is to change how we think about situations we find ourselves in and take positive actions.

CBT recognises the past but the focus of the therapy is on the present.

CBT can be particularly effective in people that are going through mild to moderate forms of depression.

CBT will usually take the form of 6 to 8 one-to-one sessions with a trained counsellor. Alternative methods include group CBT and online CBT.

Mindfulness based cognitive behavioural therapy (MBCT)

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is specifically developed to change the way people perceive their experience of life, rather than attending anxieties about the future or attaining a sense of identity through past events, Mindfulness teaches individuals to experience life on a moment by moment basis, avoiding judgment and desire for change.

In this way, Mindfulness is the cultivation of a radically different way of dealing with adversity, negative memories, thoughts and experiences.

Rather than constantly battling to remove oneself from discomfort, Mindfulness provides individuals with techniques to accept and let things be as they are in the present moment, by default, Mindfulness practices are accompanied by peace, relaxation and the reduction in symptoms of depression.

More precisely, Mindfulness has been shown to significantly reduce ruminative thinking patterns, affective symptoms and dysfunctional belief systems associated with depression.

Mindfulness is the therapy of choice recommended by NICE to address recurrent major depression. People who have experienced three or more episodes of depression will be offered MBCT as it has been found to be the most effective treatment in preventing relapse.

Using mindfulness to address symptoms of depression is also seen as more appropriate for a person with diabetes as it means there will be no conflicting side effects with their normal diabetes treatment.

Cognitive analytic surgery (CAT)

Cognitive analytic surgery (CAT) helps you to understand problems linked to the past that are affecting you now and looks to improve your ability to cope with situations in the present and future.

CAT starts by investigating why and how psychological problems have occurred, which may go as far back as childhood. A therapist will explore which methods of coping you have used and suggest improved or alternative methods of coping. You may typically receive around 16 sessions of CAT. The therapy has been shown to be successful in people that have suffered from long term eating disorders.

Long term psychotherapy

Long-term psychotherapy may take place over a number of months or even years and may be used for people that have had with complex psychological difficulties or have had psychological problems for a number of years.

Counselling

Counselling gives you a chance to identify and work through problems with a trained counsellor.

You may expect to receive between 6 and 12 sessions of counselling with each lasting an hour.

Counselling is most effective in people that are currently going through difficult or stressful circumstances which may include relationship issues, bereavement or redundancy.

How can I access psychotherapy?

Your GP can refer you to talking treatments on the NHS. Some areas of the country may allow you to self-refer yourself to access a therapist.

A further option is to have private treatment. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the UK Council for Psychotherapy are professional bodies which can provide you with the contact details of trained professional psychotherapists.