Dealing With Diabetes: 10 Top Tips On How To Cope

Receiving any new medical diagnosis is a worrying time.

You may not have been aware there was anything awry with your health, or you may have had an idea.

Either way, learning to accept the news of a new medical diagnosis can be a challenging time. 

You may be experiencing many different emotions, several of which we will discuss in this article.

When faced with health difficulties, it can be incredibly empowering to be armed with additional knowledge of your condition and know that others may be going through something similar.

While this is true for many medical conditions, diabetes will be the focus of this article.

In the following sections, we will explore the difficulties that many face when diagnosed with diabetes.

We will provide guidance on dealing with a new diabetes diagnosis, share some tips, and guide the reader to find more information and get more support.

Read on to learn more and help take control of your condition. 

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Coming to terms with having diabetes

As introduced above, coming to term with a new diagnosis can be a challenging time.

If you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you may feel any of the below emotions, and all of these are valid:

Confusion

This can relate to the information you have been presented with, how things have been explained or even confusion toward the diagnosis itself. You may not have realized that you carried the risk factors for diabetes.

Risk factors for diabetes may include; having had prediabetes, insulin resistance, or another related condition, such as heart disease, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, or a family history of diabetes.

Certain ethnicities and older adults are also at an increased risk of developing diabetes.

Speak to your diabetes care team if you’re feeling confused. 

Overwhelmed

You may have been told that you need to take oral diabetes medication or insulin injections, make diet and lifestyle changes, attend regular medical appointments or carry out regular blood sugar tests as part of your diabetes management.

Whether you have been told to do one or all of these things, feeling overwhelmed is a natural response.

Upset or depressed

Feeling down is not unusual for people living with diabetes.

This is something to keep an eye on because if these feelings persist, they can develop into more serious mental health issues such as depression.

People living with diabetes are two times more likely to develop depression than those without diabetes.

If you are concerned or would like to learn more, Diabetes UK has resources that may be useful, such as symptoms to look out for.

Diabetes distress is also something that can occur within people living with diabetes.

Diabetes distress can occur when any or all of the feelings mentioned in this article can lead to extreme feelings of distress or burnout (also called diabetes burnout).

Seek advice and support if you are concerned you may have diabetes distress. 

Worry

For many people, dealing with diabetes can feel worrying.

For example, you may be worried about low blood sugar levels, high blood sugar levels, or other things such as taking insulin injections or other diabetes medicines.

Understandably, this can cause worry and apprehension.

By learning about dealing with diabetes, including essential lifestyle changes that you can make, such as increasing physical activity, eating a healthy diet, and looking after your mental health, you can lessen this worry.

Coming to terms with a diabetes diagnosis will feel different for everyone.

There is so much to consider – from learning about diabetes management, testing your blood sugar levels, and understanding what your blood sugar (also called blood glucose level) results mean; learning about different diabetes medications, including insulin.

Or even just understanding how it feels to be a patient or to communicate with your health care provider and diabetes educator.

In the next section of this article, we will share some tips on coping with a new diabetes diagnosis, whether that’s type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, or even gestational diabetes.

Get Your FREE Diabetes Diet Plan

  • 15 foods to naturally lower blood sugar levels
  • 3 day sample meal plan
  • Designed exclusively by our nutritionist

By clicking “Download Now”, I agree to Ben's Natural Health Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Ten tips for dealing with a new diabetes diagnosis

1) Don’t shy away from your emotions

As already mentioned, experiencing any or all of the above feelings is normal when coming to terms and dealing with a new diabetes diagnosis.

Try to acknowledge your feelings, as recognizing them is a crucial step toward helping you to manage them. 

2) Take things at your own pace

Healthcare providers and diabetes educators are there to support you.

If you don’t understand something, be honest with them and ask for their advice on best managing the situation.

It can take time to learn about your diabetes management, including lifestyle changes, testing your blood sugar levels, and learning about diabetes medicines – it’s fine to go away and think about things.

If your medical regime needs urgent attention, your team will inform you of this. 

3) Talk to other people with diabetes

There are resources available for people with all kinds of diabetes, including type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes. Both Diabetes UK and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) have forums where you can communicate with others in similar situations online.  

4) Talk to people close to you

It can be beneficial to talk to people in similar situations to yourself, but sometimes, the best advice and support you will receive is from your loved ones.

5) Don’t forget about your healthcare providers

Diabetes care teams are there to help you navigate challenging times with your diabetes.

While, unfortunately, not all patients get the empathetic care they expect, there are undeniably many fantastic and knowledgeable healthcare providers out there.

Be honest with yours, and remember that working with them will help you get the best out of their expertise.

It will also help you to optimally manage your diabetes, including essential things like testing your blood glucose levels. 

6) Go to your appointments

Feeling overwhelmed can lead to missing appointments.

Instead, try and avoid this if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Share this, and see what your diabetes educators suggest. 

7) Seek support and utilize it when it’s there

It can be comforting to know that support is available, but what use is this if you don’t utilize it?

Whether you choose to talk about how you’re feeling or ask for alternative help, including financial or physical, using available support can be invaluable. 

8) Know your rights when it comes to finances

For people in the UK, prescriptions for diabetes medicines and insulin are free, although additional blood glucose meters or insulin pumps may come at a cost.

However, you will need to have the proper documentation – Diabetes UK has more information about this online.

In the US, you must be knowledgeable about your insurance and are aware of any financial help that may be available to you.

Source reliable information online to know what support is available to you. 

9) Take time for yourself

Looking after your mental health, doing regular physical activity, and eating a healthy diabetic diet are all things that can help not only your general wellbeing but also diabetes management.

It may even help to prevent you from getting diabetes distress.

Exercise has been proven to reduce stress, and simple mindfulness techniques like guided meditation can be great for helping to manage your emotions. 

10) Try and recognize when you are being given false information

While many people might have good intentions, there are a considerable amount of myths out there about diabetes.

Incorrect information such as; ‘you cannot drive when you have diabetes,’ ‘people with diabetes can’t have any sugar,’ and ‘type 2 diabetes is only mild diabetes’ are just a few of the myths surrounding diabetes.

If something doesn’t sound right, always check with your healthcare team or a qualified diabetes educator. 

Where to get support

If you feel as though you may need more support with dealing with your diabetes diagnosis, firstly, congratulate yourself!

Acknowledge that recognizing you need this support is positive. And this should help you get more out of it when you do access it.

After all, acknowledging that you need help is the first step to managing your problems. 

In the UK, charities like Diabetes UK provide a vast amount of support for free. And The ADA does similar for people in the US.

However, the first port of call is to talk to your healthcare providers. They can listen to your needs and recommend the best kind of support for you. 

Conclusion

Coming to terms with and dealing with a diabetes diagnosis can be highly challenging. 

Remember that you are not alone, and there is support available.

All of your feeling about having diabetes are valid.

While it may be difficult initially, seeking help will make things easier for you to manage in the long run.

Next Up

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Sources

  1. Diabetes UK. Diabetes Support Forum. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/how_we_help/community/diabetes-support-forum
  2. American Diabetes Association. Community. https://community.diabetes.org/home
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2019). Financial Help for Diabetes Care. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/financial-help-diabetes-care
  4. Nickerson HD, Dutta S. Diabetic complications: current challenges and opportunities. J Cardiovasc Transl Res. 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3396342/
  5. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Medication for type 2 diabetes. [Updated 2020 Oct 22]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279506/

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