Scientists in Scotland are conducting a two-year study to find out if mindfulness can lead to people achieving better type 1 diabetes management.
Mindfulness is a technique that is based on meditatio, and has been recommended as a treatment for people with depression in England.
Lead investigator Dr Andy Kee, a health psychologist specialising in diabetes at Aberdeen University and NHS Grampia, believes the medication technique could alleviate “significant barriers to effectively managing diabetes”.
According to Diabetes Scotland, over 75 per cent of people with type 1 diabetes in the country have struggled to manage their condition.
Researchers at Aberdeen University are now investigating whether mindfulness can lead to lower blood glucose levels and reductions in anxiety and depression.
Participants will attend a mindfulness group one evening a week for eight weeks, and practice mindfulness at home.
Keen added: “Both these conditions have characteristics that make managing diabetes even harder.
“For example, people who are anxious have high levels of stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol, and these cause glucose to be released into the bloodstream, driving up blood glucose levels.
“Also, depression is characterised by fatigue and low motivation, which can make it tricky to devote the time and energy required to manage complex long-term conditions like diabetes.”
So far a mindfulness-based cognitive therapy course by NHS Grampian has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms in people with diabetes.
This new research will examine how mindfulness impacts on adults with type 1 diabetes with high blood glucose levels.
Dr Keen said: “It is best to think of mindfulness as a skill. It is a way of helping people be better able to focus on the ‘here and now’ of their lives, and disengage with unhelpful ways of thinking, such as worry and rumination.
“If you change the way people think, then you change the way they feel. We definitely know that anxiety and depression can be significant barriers to effectively managing diabetes, and by alleviating these we can give people the opportunity to invest more time and energy into looking after themselves if they want to do that.”

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