DIABETES WA is highlighting the need for better stress management for people who live with diabetes.
The ‘Know Your Stress Limits’ campaign, launched recently is designed to remind people with diabetes and health professionals not to ignore the effects of stress on blood glucose levels.
According to Diabetes WA, thousands of people with the condition experience increased levels of stress and depression; symptoms they say must be properly managed.
“Stress can affect the blood glucose levels of people with diabetes in different ways and if these levels are not managed then some people can experience problems with low blood sugar and long-term complications including loss of sight, heart disease and circulation problems,” Diabetes WA Health Services general manager Helen Mitchell says.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes affect over a million Australians and the number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is expected to triple in just over ten years.
Results from the Diabetes MILES Study, released in May by Diabetes Australia, indicate that about one in four people with diabetes experience clinical levels of depression.
The study, which examined over 3300 Australians with diabetes, found that adults with type 2 insulin-treated diabetes experience the highest levels of depression and anxiety with 35 per cent experiencing moderate to severe depressive symptoms.
Severe diabetes-related distress is more common in adults with type 1 diabetes, with 28 per cent experiencing signs of severe distress.
The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes foundation director Professor Jane Speight, who conducted the study, says people with type 1 diabetes were more likely to feel distressed because they had lived with the condition for much longer and the demands of managing their condition, which involved daily injections and blood checks, were exhausting.
“There is no holiday from type 1 diabetes,” Prof Speight says.
“Prof Speight says fluctuating blood glucose levels induced by stress could lead to severe hypoglycaemia in the short-term and other serious long-term complications.
She says the way people cope with stress plays a role too.
“People cope in all sorts of ways—by overeating or not eating, losing sleep or overworking—all of which can have serious implications,” Prof Speight says.
Prof Speight says a major concern was that most GP consultations focused on the medical management of diabetes.
She urged health professionals to discuss the emotional aspects of living with the condition with their patients.
The Diabetes MILES Study is an international study that is also being conducted in several European countries.
The results of the study completed in Australia are the first to be released and will be used as a benchmark for future Australian studies.