Research reveals anxiety and stigma associated with insulin-treated type 2 diabetes

Camille Bienvenu
Wed, 16 Nov 2016
Research reveals anxiety and stigma associated with insulin-treated type 2 diabetes
A new study, funded by Sanofi, uncovers the emotional toll of people with type 2 diabetes on insulin, and how it affects their day-to-day diabetes management.

The research reveals that a large number of patients feel overwhelmed with fear and self-shame on a daily basis, which is impacting their confidence to effectively control their blood sugars.

According to researchers, 52 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes in the UK find it challenging to balance their blood glucose levels or worry about doing so.

Of those, a quarter of patients specifically suffer from anxiety over getting hypos (low blood glucose levels).

An estimated 40 per cent of these patients reportedly feel less anxious or fearful about having high blood glucose levels than they do about the risks of hypos.

The findings suggest that because of this, some may run the risk of making fear-driven decisions to prevent low blood sugars, without necessarily thinking about what high blood sugars can do to their health long term.

Having low blood sugars is unpleasant and can be dangerous in the short term if not treated quickly.

However, high blood glucose levels in the longer term is also dangerous, as it can cause serious complications, such as nerve damage, kidney failure or eye disease.

The research also indicates that negative emotions and stereotypes associated with diabetes can sometimes get in the way of optimal diabetes management.

A significant proportion of patients with type 2 diabetes (15 per cent) believe that other people think they are to blame and that they brought the condition upon themselves.

More than half of people with type 2 diabetes (58 per cent) feel self-conscious about injecting in public, or avoid doing so. In some instances, this can lead to patients not injecting on time as they wait until no one is around.

Some patients (14 per cent) are under the impression that other people think they just have an excessive desire or appetite for food, which can have them not sticking to their eating habits during social gatherings.

A number of people (25 per cent) also feel they have to hide their condition for fear of being criticised. Therefore, they end up only telling close friends, family and their healthcare professional about their diabetes.

Overall, this goes to show that the absence of better emotional and psychological support for people with type 2 diabetes can cultivate a sense of helplessness and a lack of confidence in their ability to better control their blood sugars.
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