It’s important for diabetes educators to be well-versed in the signs and treatments for depression, anxiety and diabetes-related distress in individuals with diabetes. Fortunately, there are evidence-based treatments available to help.
In Sunday’s session, “’I Know What to Do, I Just Can’t Get Myself to Do It.’ The Relationship of Mental Health Issues and Diabetes,” Mary de Groot, PhD, will bring the latest and greatest information about diabetes distress, depression and anxiety to diabetes educators at 2:00 pm in Ballroom III.
“Many people with diabetes and their families are fortunate to receive quality diabetes education when they are diagnosed but may struggle with the burden of self-care as they manage diabetes 24/7/ 365,” said Dr. de Groot, who is an Associate Professor of Medicine and acting director of the Diabetes Translational Research Center at Indiana University. “When people are engaged in that struggle, it’s not uncommon for them to develop diabetes-related distress, depression and/or anxiety.”
Dr. de Groot said that diabetes educators can play a critical role in supporting individuals with these conditions. She added that anywhere from 38 to 45% of people with diabetes are experiencing diabetes-specific distress, which highly correlates with an elevated A1c. Diabetes-related distress can significantly affect individual engagement with all of the self-care tasks that educators ask people to do.
“We know that depression and anxiety, added on top of diabetes, make it more difficult to manage diabetes. These comorbid conditions are associated with poor outcomes, whether that’s glycemic control, or in the case of depression, worsening diabetes complications, functional disability, and ultimately early mortality,” she said.
But there is good news in the form of evidence-based treatments for all three of these conditions. Dr. de Groot will share results from her own research as well as other recent research into treatment options, including behavioral interventions, medicine interventions and combinations of the two.
“For many people, there is a need for a combination of approaches to best support them getting back on track to managing diabetes,” she said. “Diabetes educators do the heavy lifting of diabetes support for people with these co-morbid conditions. Recognition of these conditions along with appropriate referrals and coordinated care can make diabetes education more effective.”
Dr. de Groot said she hopes that attendees will learn about the prevalence of diabetes distress, depression and anxiety, the impact of these conditions on outcomes and empirically validated treatment options that are available to address these issues.
“We have learned that the course of depression is actually much longer in people with type 2 diabetes than we’ve seen in the general population,” she said. “I think that’s all the more reason for us to address it, because it doesn’t easily go away on its own.”