Diabetes Australia shows mental health issues are the most common complication for diabetics

A new study has found that the most common complication for people living with diabetes is the unexpected leader.

Mental health problems have become the most common and least recognized complication of diabetes, according to the latest data from Diabetes Australia.

The study shows that almost half of the 1.5 million Australians living with diabetes experience mental health problems each year.

Of the nearly 700,000 diabetics struggling with their mental health, more than 400,000 reported difficulty accessing mental health services.

Diabetes Australia chief executive Justine Kane said the staggering numbers show there is an urgent need to tackle the mental health-related diabetes epidemic.

“Many people are not getting the help and support they need,” she said.

“Mental health issues associated with diabetes are common, but they are rarely discussed as part of routine diabetes care. They really are a hidden complication of diabetes.”

The latest figures from Diabetes Australia show that more than 73 percent of people living with diabetes have been criticized for having the condition.

“Over 1.1 million Australians report being blamed or shamed for living with diabetes, and over 360,000 say it affects their ability to live well with the disease,” Ms Kane said.

“No one chooses diabetes and no one should be blamed or shamed for living with it.”

Ms Kane urged Australians to pay attention to the stigmatization of diabetes, which has contributed to a rise in the number of diabetics experiencing mental health problems.

Diabetic Sebastian Harris said there was enough to worry about without the additional stress of people’s preconceptions.

The 19-year-old and his younger brother were both diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and said the condition had taken a toll both physically and mentally.

“Sometimes I feel like no matter what I do, my diabetes is very difficult to control,” he said.

“It makes me wonder if I’m good at this. I know everything will be fine in the end, but at this point it’s hard not to feel defeated.”

Mr Harris said constant management of his condition could be overkill, which could lead to diabetic distress and burnout.

“You want to turn it off and forget about it, but you can’t do that with diabetes. There is no holiday from this, ”he said.

“The consequences, if you try to ignore it, could be life-threatening.”

The teen stressed the importance of spreading the word about the enormous impact of diabetes on a person’s mental and physical well-being.

From a medical standpoint, Dr. Gary Deed said doctors need to take steps to be more aware of the holistic impact of diabetes.

As a diabetic who focused on providing health care to others living with the disease, he suggested that healthcare professionals receive specific training to better understand the reality of diabetes.

“Life with diabetes can be challenging and relentless,” he said.

“This daily treatment, in addition to worrying about long-term complications associated with diabetes, can become a real burden.”

While there has been no quick fix for the alarming number of diabetics experiencing mental health issues, Ms Kane said that incorporating mental health support into diabetes care plans would greatly improve outcomes.

“We want people to know that diabetes mental health issues are real and encourage people with diabetes and their health care providers to explore mental health care options,” Ms. Kane said.

To address this issue, Diabetes Australia is launching a new Let’s Rethink Diabetes campaign as part of National Diabetes Week from 10 to 16 July.

The campaign aims to challenge both public opinion and how the Australian health care system provides psychological support for people living with diabetes.

The Australian health care system currently spends almost $2.5 billion to treat all types of diabetes.

The impressive figure doesn’t take into account money spent on comorbidities or mental health problems.

Ms. Kane believes the money would be better spent investing in early prevention of type 2 diabetes and reducing the risk of diabetes complications.

Research shows that the number of diabetics in Australia has skyrocketed, with 120,000 people diagnosed in the year to November 2021.

“Diabetes is one of the biggest challenges currently facing the Australian health care system,” said former Diabetes Australia chief executive Greg Johnson.

He said the country is facing a “growing epidemic of diabetes” that requires a strong and comprehensive response.

Originally published as Unexpected complication leads ‘diabetes epidemic’