National Diabetes Week 2021National Diabetes Week 2021National Diabetes Week 2021National Diabetes Week 11 – 17 July

Stigma & Mental Health

It is National Diabetes Week here in Australia.  The 2021 Diabetes Week will continue with the “Heads Up” campaign which focuses on the mental and emotional health of people living with diabetes. This year, the spotlight is on diabetes stigma and mental health.

  • More than 4 in 5 people with diabetes have experienced diabetes stigma.
  • Nearly 50 per cent of people with diabetes have experienced mental health challenges in the last 12 months.

Stigma affects all aspects of life for people with diabetes, including their mental health and wellbeing.

People experience diabetes stigma when they are blamed for having diabetes, while managing diabetes such as injecting insulin in public and when they experience the affects and complications of diabetes such as low blood sugar.

This National Diabetes Week, have a conversation about the impact diabetes stigma can have on a person’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

The statistics on diabetes are alarming. 280 Australians develop diabetes every day and around 1.8 million Australians have diabetes. It is the fastest-growing chronic condition in Australia.  That’s a lot of people that may be affected by stigma, sadly that also means affecting a lot of peoples mental and emotional health.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious complex condition that can affect the entire body. Diabetes requires daily self-care and if complications develop, diabetes can have a significant impact on quality of life and can reduce life expectancy. While there is currently no cure for diabetes, you can live an enjoyable life by learning about the condition and effectively managing it.

Type 1 is an autoimmune condition that cannot be prevented or cured. And the cause is still unknown. As for Type 2, you can be at risk of developing it by things beyond your control, such as your family history or ethnicity.

Diabetes is increasing?

All types of diabetes are increasing in prevalence:

  • Type 1 diabetes accounts for 10% of all diabetes and is increasing
  • Type 2 diabetes accounts for 85% of all diabetes and is increasing
  • Gestational diabetes in pregnancy is increasing

Do you have any Diabetes Symptoms?

In Type 1 Diabetes, symptoms are often sudden and can be life-threatening; therefore it is usually diagnosed quite quickly. In type 2 diabetes, many people have no symptoms at all, while other signs can go unnoticed being seen as part of ‘getting older’.

Therefore, by the time symptoms are noticed, complications of diabetes may already be present.

Common symptoms include:

  • Being more thirsty than usual
  • Passing more urine
  • Feeling tired and lethargic
  • Always feeling hungry
  • Having cuts that heal slowly
  • Itching, skin infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Unexplained weight loss (type 1)
  • Gradually putting on weight (type 2)
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Leg cramps
MYTHS FACTS
Diabetes is not serious There is no such thing as “mild” diabetes. All types of diabetes are serious and can lead to complications if not well managed. Diabetes can affect quality of life and can reduce life expectancy.
All types of diabetes are the same There are a number of types of diabetes. The most common are type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes Other forms of diabetes are less common. Each type of diabetes has different causes and may be managed in different ways but once someone has any type of diabetes except gestational diabetes, it needs to be managed every day. Gestational diabetes goes away after pregnancy, however it does significantly increase someone’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. All types of diabetes are complex and serious.
Diabetes can be prevented Not all types of diabetes can be prevented. Type 1 is an autoimmune condition, it cannot be prevented and there is no cure. The cause of type 1 diabetes is still unknown.

 

Strong international evidence shows diabetes prevention programs can help prevent type 2 diabetes in up to 58 per cent of cases. There is no single cause of type 2 diabetes, but there are well-established risk factors. Your risk of developing diabetes is also affected by things you cannot change such as family history and ethnicity.

You have to be overweight or obese to develop diabetes Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes but it is not a direct cause. Some people who are overweight may not develop type 2 diabetes while some people who are of a healthy weight will develop type 2 diabetes.

 

Type 1 diabetes is not preventable and not associated with weight, physical inactivity or any other lifestyle factors.

You only get type 1 diabetes when you’re young The onset of type 1 diabetes occurs most frequently in people under 30 years, however new research suggests almost half of all people who develop the condition are diagnosed over the age of 30.
You only get type 2 diabetes when you’re old Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adults over the age of 45 years but is increasingly occurring in younger age groups including children, adolescents and young adults.
You have to be overweight or obese to develop diabetes Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes but it is not a direct cause. Some people who are overweight may not develop type 2 diabetes while some people who are of a healthy weight will develop type 2 diabetes.
You only get type 1 diabetes when you’re young The onset of type 1 diabetes occurs most frequently in people under 30 years, however new research suggests almost half of all people who develop the condition are diagnosed over the age of 30.
You only get type 2 diabetes when you’re old Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adults over the age of 45 years but is increasingly occurring in younger age groups including children, adolescents and young adults.
People with diabetes can’t eat dessert Because diabetes effects blood glucose levels, many people think they need to avoid sugars and foods containing sugar. However, if eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes. The key is to eat everything in moderation.
No one in my family has diabetes so I don’t have to worry Family history is only one of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
Only people with type 1 diabetes need insulin ype 2 diabetes is a progressive condition. 50 percent of people with type 2 diabetes will need insulin after 6-10 years of being diagnosed with diabetes because the pancreas produces less insulin over time. Taking medication when required can result in fewer complications in the long-term and is part of managing type 2 diabetes.

 

People with type 1 diabetes depend on insulin replacements every day of their lives. They must test their blood glucose levels several times throughout the day.

 

We encourage you to do your own research and consult your GP if you have any questions or concerns.  

NDSS Helpline 1800 637 700

Sources & further information:

https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/about-diabetes/

https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/news-resources/current-campaigns/national-diabetes-week/

https://www.ndss.com.au/about-diabetes/resources/find-a-resource/caring-for-someone-with-diabetes-for-family-and-friends-fact-sheet/

https://www.ndss.com.au/about-diabetes/resources/

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/conditionsandtreatments/diabetes

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