National clinical health guidelines have demonstrated that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is useful for people with diabetes who are struggling with managing diagnosis.

Here is a three-step technique for using CBT.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can often be useful for people with diabetes as CBT requires you to examine your thoughts – in this case, about your diabetes.

What is cognitive behavioural therapy?

CBT was developed by the psychiatrist Aaron Beck in the 1960s. It proposes that there are four aspects to parts to depression.

  1. Thoughts and thinking styles (cognitions) – about ourselves, others and the future
  2. Feelings, emotions and moods
  3. Behaviours – the actions we take, or don’t take
  4. Physical symptoms – what happens to our body

There are three steps to using CBT in its simplest form:

Step 1: What are the thoughts you notice running through your mind?

Some examples might be:

  • “What have I done to deserve this?
  • “I can’t do this.”
  • “I’m a failure because I have diabetes”

Step 2: Challenge Your Thoughts

Take each thought in term and ask yourself some questions about it:

  • What is the evidence for and against this thought?
  • Is thinking this way helping me?

For example, for the thought, “There is nothing I can do to stop diabetes complications ”  – is there really nothing you can do?

Educate yourself though diabetes related books and internet resources recommended by your healthcare team.

What does the research demonstrate about the likelihood of diabetes complications?

Step 3: Think of an Alternative, Balanced Thought

  • “I may not be able to control whether I develop complications but I can feel in control of trying my best to keep healthy”
  • “The research shows that those who test their blood are more healthy and less likely to develop long term complications”

Being diagnosed with diabetes is an immense life change to cope with. By becoming more aware of your experience of how you are coping you can allow diabetes to become a part of your identity, enabling you to work with it rather than fighting against it. This is crucial for your short and long term health.

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