Diabetes and depression; why don’t people want to talk about it?

Today we welcome a new guest blogger – Michael Goldman, Director of Fundraising and Membership here at Diabetes Australia – Vic

Diabetes and depression; why don’t people want to talk about it? Are they scared of the reaction they might receive if they ask someone with diabetes ‘how are you?’. Is it that those without diabetes do not understand the health burden of diabetes or is it simply that other chronic illnesses seem to consume their thoughts? The fact of the matter is the public has their tongues tied over diabetes and are too worried about upsetting people as they try to untangle them.

This issue cannot be ignored anymore. I have worked in the diabetes space for over three years now and in this time I have grown strong, personal relationships with individuals who have diabetes. Their friendships are my steady reminder of how diabetes has impacted their lives, from checking blood glucose levels over a coffee to preparing to travel overseas with their families during holiday periods. I have seen how diabetes can affect an individual and it simply cannot continue to be overlooked in the emotional health space.

Diabetes and depression are closely connected. One in four people will experience depression at one point in their adult lives and for people with diabetes the risk of depression more than doubles. Plus, having depression can increase the likelihood of developing diabetes complications further down the track.

Logo for R U OK?DayToday is R U OK?Day. It’s a day that reminds us to check in with family and friends with the aim of helping those who may be struggling with emotional issues, and I want to highlight the importance of acknowledging the connection between diabetes and depression. Today, I will be encouraging others to think about the wellbeing of friends and colleagues and reflecting on my own emotional health. I’m not an expert, but I don’t have to be. I am happy to listen to concerns without judgment and make sure that I take the time to follow up.

We know that individuals living with diabetes can live long and happy lives. But it is important to remember that diabetes can be an exhausting, unrelenting chronic condition that is unique in its effects on the body. Plus, the stigma that is often connected with diabetes creates an additional load. Checking in with someone and encouraging a sense of openness around how they speak about their health could have a great impact.

In a way, I think that the politically correct nature of our society has us backed into a corner. What can we say? What can’t we say? What is the correct term? Enough is enough. By simply showing someone you care you will allow them the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings. So next time, take the politically correct gag from your mouth and ask someone who you know is living with diabetes how they are feeling. And mean it.

For further information on emotional health and wellbeing with diabetes, visit the Diabetes Australia – Vic website. Alternatively, you can check your emotional health online at Minding Diabetes.

Michael GoldmanMichael Goldman is the Director of Fundraising and Membership at DA–Vic. You can follow him on Twitter @MGoldmanDAVic. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are his own.

About Diabetes Australia – Vic

DA–Vic is the leading charity and peak consumer body working to reduce the impact of diabetes.
This entry was posted in Diabetes, Mental health and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Diabetes and depression; why don’t people want to talk about it?

  1. Pingback: Ask the question | Diabetogenic

  2. 1type1 says:

    Great first appearance in the Blogosphere, Michael! Well said & here-here to busting the myths on diabetes & mental health… We all deserve a shot at being our best :)

  3. meltwicediabetes says:

    Great post. What do you think can be done about “…the stigma that is often connected with diabetes .” at an individual but more importantly at an organisational level?

    • Hi, thank you for your comment. From an organisational point of view, we must focus on building our profile, not only to elevate the recognition of diabetes or its seriousness, but also to personalise diabetes and make it about people. At DA–Vic we work closely with the ACBRD who are dedicated to investigating the behavioural, psychological and social aspects of diabetes, including reducing the stigma. In addition to this, as an organisation we are constantly educating the media to ensure they accurately represent diabetes in the news; this includes their use of language as incorrect statements can sometimes result in negative connotations. If you would like to discuss this further, please email me at membership@diabetesvic.org.au and I will inform you of other ways we are working to reduce the impact of diabetes in the community.
      Thanks, Michael.

      • roid says:

        Michael, unfortunately i don’t see journalistic standards going anywhere but down.
        I have given up on the mainstream media, they are only interested in sensationalism, and their science reporting is attrociously misinformed as the rule rather than the exception.
        So, i refuse to watch TV news anymore, much better to get your news from more reliable sources online such as science bloggers.

        Kids thesedays barely watch any TV at all, there seems to be a generational shift. :)

  4. Jeann says:

    I couldn’t read your blog yesterday because I was having a ‘down’ day. Yep. I am experiencing a period of depression. My last episode was mid 2011. So, I have been going well. I tell my close friend when I am having an ‘episode’ and I find them very supportive. My GP is wonderful and my psychologist is great. I know that all these people mean it when they ask how I am going. However, to most people I present a façade when in public then I come home and fall in a mangled heap. It is hard to explain the 24 hour experience that is diabetes.

  5. Kerrie says:

    Great read Michael it’s interesting that many aspects of Diabetes whatever the number are not recognised and to me it most certainly needs to be for the young and the young at heart that are effected each and everyday with Diabetes living either with them or their loved one. The diabetes number that effects our family is Type1 and having a child touched by this effects the entire family. RUOK today a great campaign but wow the many that live with type1( as thats the number currently im most familiar with) many may just slip thru being asked sadly as they look ok, diabetes as we know is silent and mostly goes unnoticed until we know what to look for :). But it’s good to see people are happy to put themselves out there that care – so thank you for that – many changes are most certainly needed

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