By: Karina Monsalve
As part of the commemoration of World Diabetes Day, which is celebrated in November, today I will dedicate my column to making visible the psychological aspects involved in patients suffering from this condition.
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease of the endocrine system that affects millions of people worldwide. Diabetes, or inadequate elevation of blood sugar, not only affects the physical health of the patient, but also influences the quality of life, lifestyle and, therefore, the psychological and social functioning of those who suffer from it .
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar) sufficiently or when the body does not use the insulin it produces effectively. There are two types of diabetes, type 1, which starts in childhood (requires daily administration of insulin) and type 2, which starts in adulthood (these are the majority of cases and do not necessarily require the administration of insulin).
One of the most worrying aspects is that the number of people with this disease has been increasing in recent years as a result of overweight, obesity and physical inactivity.
Scientific studies do not show strong evidence that the diabetic person is psychologically different from the rest of the population. However, there is no doubt that suffering from diabetes generates psychological and emotional reactions that are reflected in all areas of the life of those who suffer from it and can have a negative impact on treatment and, therefore, on their metabolic control.
People with this condition cannot just take a few pills or take insulin in the morning, and forget about their condition for the rest of the day. Any difference in daily diet, physical exercise, daily self-monitoring, level of emotional stress, or other psychological or personal factors can affect the level of glucose in the blood. Hence the importance of educating patients on the effects of these factors, to the extent that an individual with diabetes knows the influence of all these factors on himself, to that extent, the better the control he can have over his condition.
Because diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease, the primary factor for the effectiveness of treatment is adherence to it. The patient must accept his condition and with this acceptance begin to manage and readjust the intervening factors in his health, to have self-control in the management of his glycemia.
The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is an unexpected event with a complex and stressful manifestation in the infant and adolescent stage, since it involves a significant emotional overload for the child and his family, implies having a different functioning in the family dynamics, developing new habits and gain more knowledge about the disease. The young person must acquire this knowledge to begin to take responsibility for himself, which implies a level of commitment and early maturity for both himself and his family.
For the diabetic who begins the disease in adulthood the affectation is different, in most cases frustration and denial appear as predominant feelings before the disease, these patients do not carry out any change in their life habits that improves Your condition. Therefore, they get worse over time. In other cases, the impact on your psyche is reflected by excessive worry and anguish about the way you think your life will develop from that moment on. The perception you begin to have about the disease may be more disabling than it really is in reality. In such a way that in the initial stages anxious and depressive symptoms stand out that will require psychological attention. Emotional stress by itself is often the reason that justifies the lack of control.
In many cases, patients refuse to comply with some aspects of the treatment, fear the use of the medication, the mechanical action of the injection itself, or get tired of having to do it daily and in an act of rebellion they stop doing it.
An exclusively medical treatment is insufficient. Psychological intervention is necessary for the psycho-emotional support of the patient, the enhancement of their adaptive capacities, understanding, acceptance and adherence to treatment, which will contribute to improving the patient’s quality of life.
The family, the partner, the closest friends, the health personnel, are part of the support network of these patients. Family support is particularly important in diabetic patients, not only because it can help them guarantee the material and instrumental bases of treatment, but also because being involved in the daily treatment regimen will reinforce adherence to it and help eliminate feelings of insecurity. and handicap. The understanding, support and acceptance that comes from others give the diabetic patient security and confidence.
KARINA MONSALVE | @karinakarinammq
Clinical psychologist at La Trinidad Teaching Medical Center.
The Pitazo is not responsible or endorses the opinions expressed in this article.