The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recently released a statement recognising that there is more to health than blood sugar management for people with diabetes.
One important factor that tends to get short shrift is mental health and the social support needed to address emotional challenges that can compromise health outcomes.
In its statement, the ADA is saying that healthcare providers need to put more time and energy focusing on these areas that often tend to be neglected.
To that end, it has identified ways to screen, assess and treat various psychological obstacles that play a role in helping people to manage diabetes.
The ADA’s report includes results of two research studies showing that social support is a big predictor of the development of psychological disorders.
These studies have looked into the efficacy and effectiveness of different behavioural therapies to determine what is the right intervention and how to make it stick.
The findings suggest that interventions like talk therapies, that people ordinarily don’t necessarily buy into, are a good start to prevent and treat psychological distress.
It underlines the fact that addressing mental health problems undermining our sense of wellbeing starts with a conversation, one about how we relate to ourselves and others.
In the 12-week study, “Program ACTIVE II: A Comparative Effectiveness Trial to Treat Major Depression in T2DM”, researchers have found that verbalising emotions helps.
Those involved in talking therapies were more likely to be free of major clinical depression symptoms than their counterparts engaged in other activities, like exercise.
The second study, the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study, focused on the prevalence of disordered eating behaviours in young adults with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Such disorders are often under-recognised and yet affected 21.2 percent of study participants with type 1 diabetes and 52.2 percent of those with type 2 diabetes.
The results highlight the fact that more needs to be done to identify at-risk patients early o, and to offer appropriate counseling and treatment if necessary.
Evidence again supports the notion that a healthy social support network helps to better handle various stressors in life. When that network is underdeveloped or non-existent, it is far more likely that problems will occur.
These insights, presented at the ADA’s 77th Scientific Sessions, in San Diego, will inform discussions about future education programmes and strategies to lower risks of depression, anxiety and disordered eating among people with diabetes.

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