Amy Tenderich was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2003. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Diabetes Mine and co-authored the book Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes. You will frequently find her speaking at diabetes, health, and social media events across the country.
Negative feelings and a sense of being overwhelmed are incredibly common among people with diabetes – so how do you judge whether you’re just experiencing the everyday frustrations, or whether you are genuinely distressed, and possibly in need of help?
Fortunately, the psychological challenge of diabetes is now widely recognized, and there are many tools and programs to help.
There are two screening tools in particular I’d recommend:
Click here to check out this online questionnaire, developed by the Behavioral Diabetes Institute in San Diego, CA, to help gauge where you stand with your level of distress.
Take a moment to fill out the 17 questions there. The site will also guide you through scoring your answers, to discover whether you are experiencing a low, average, or high level of diabetes distress.
If high, the first step is realizing what your individual problems are, and accepting that you cannot address them all at once. Instead, look for a professional health care provider to help you tackle them one by one. The help you need could come from your primary doctor, a diabetes specialist or educator, or a therapist.
True depression is a serious problem, and people with diabetes are almost twice as likely to develop it as other people. It’s a vicious cycle because if you’re depressed, diabetes can become a lot harder to handle and your BG levels are likely to rise. When your diabetes is out of control, this can make it even harder to escape depression.
How can you tell if you have depression, versus simply feeling “down” or “blue”?
A questionnaire called the CES-D was developed by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies specifically for measuring symptoms of depression. You can take that questionnaire, and score it, by clicking here.
We know from studies that about two-thirds of doctors fail to recognize depression. It may be that doctors don't ask the right questions, or patients just don't tell how they feel.
If you think you fit the criteria in the CES-D questionnaire, don’t try to go it alone. And don’t just wait around hoping it will go away. Instead, you should talk with your doctor as soon as possible and ask for a referral to a mental health professional. Research shows that professional counseling, sometimes in combination with anti-depressant medication, is a very effective treatment for depression.