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What Does Living With Diabetes Distress Mean?

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Feb 11, 2023

What Does Living With Diabetes Distress Mean?

Most people, if not all, know someone who is dealing with diabetes for some time now. While it may seem like a common condition that runs in many households, it is not easy to live with it like how one gets to acquire it. Living with diabetes distress is something not many people talk about. Thus, this article starts to open up the conversation on what one needs to know in dealing with diabetes distress. 

A Closer Look on Diabetes Distress

Diabetes affects roughly 425 million individuals worldwide or one in every 11 individuals. It may look simple but it is actually a complicated, chronic condition that demands some type of specialized self-care practices. Some of which are: 

  • Regular exercise
  • Good and moderate eating habits
  • Regular blood glucose level monitoring 
  • Intake of medication 
  • Regular consultation with a doctor 

Hence, it is fair to consider that persons with diabetes could feel overwhelmed because of all these demands and more. 

A person living with diabetes distress feels the burden of keeping up with the constant self-management. Some may also have it due to their fear of the possibility of further complications. 

Moreover, it can also stem from the overall societal implications of diabetes in society (i.e., stigma and discrimination). For the most part, people with diabetes concern themselves with the financial implications of having the said condition. Insurance and treatments costs play a huge part in their table of consideration.

Diabetes distress

Diabetes distress exists on a spectrum that is reliant on its content and severity. It can vary from time to time and peak during stressful times such as: 

  • Shortly after a diagnosis
  • When long-term issues are discovered, dealt with or worsened
  • During major changes in therapy

When a person living with diabetes distress is left untreated, it may continuously progress over time. This may lead to the development of the severe kind or sometimes refer to as a depression. 

What Are the Tell-tale Signs of Diabetes Distress?

You may notice you are already living with diabetes distress if you exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Unstable blood glucose levels (suboptimal HbA1C)
  • Not showing up to your appointments with the doctor
  • Ineffective coping mechanisms (such as stress eating)
  • Not engaging in diabetic self-care duties (like blood glucose monitoring or missing medicinal dosages)
  • Strained connections with healthcare providers, friends, family, or partners
  • Unfavorable life stressors or long-term stress (financial difficulties, joblessness, or homelessness)

More often than not, others also experience the feeling of burnout when these take place in their lives. 

How Can You Cope with Diabetes Distress?

It may seem difficult living with diabetes distress. But good thing there are several ways on how you can turn things around for you and your way of managing it. 

Pay close attention to your feelings

More than anything, it is important for you to be aware of your own feelings towards your condition. It is normal to feel stressed or frustrated about your maintenance. But you may need some counteraction if you have been experiencing these responses for over a week or so. This may help in the prevention of its severity. 

Talk to your healthcare providers about it

Inform anyone from your healthcare team about the possible diabetes distress symptoms you are experiencing. They can assist you in coping with such feelings of being judged by others due to your diabetes.

Allow your loved ones to help in your treatment and management 

Your family is the greatest support system you can ever have, so make them feel like they are a part of your journey. 

Being honest with your frustrations and problems to someone you can entrust can help you vent out the stressful steam. Let them know if you need some assistance with anything.

You may also seek some guidance from people in your family who are going through the same thing. While in the middle of sharing your story, they may be able to share a thing or two about how they deal with it as well. 

Squeeze in some time to do what things you enjoy

Above all else, you should not forget to take a break. Find some time to allow yourself to just enjoy. Whether it be by playing, cooking, or even catching up with a friend, do things that may you look forward to doing more in life. 

Do not settle just because you feel like your condition stops you from doing the things you love.

Key Takeaways

Diabetes is a long-term condition that may require much of your time and attention. But learning and understanding diabetes distress plays a vital role in the management of your condition. 

Involving the most trusted people in your life can help you power through it all, one glucose monitoring and doctor visit at a time. 

Learn more about diabetes here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Feb 11, 2023

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