Diabetes and your mental health Your emotional wellbeing Living with diabetes can come with many different challenges, both physical and mental. It’s not unusual to feel exhausted, frustrated or just over it at times. It’s important to know how and when to get help if you are finding diabetes difficult to live with day-to-day. Like physical health, your emotional and mental wellbeing changes over time. As you go through various stages in life, challenges and priorities change. Diabetes can add extra difficulty at these times. A holistic way of treating diabetes is looking after both your physical and your mental health. The first step is being able to know when you are struggling. The second is knowing what you can do and who can support you. When you feel like you’re struggling with diabetes You might be experiencing diabetes distress, which is the emotional burden of living with and managing diabetes. This can be a normal experience at time for people living with diabetes. For example, you may feel: overwhelmed by the demands of living with diabetes Feeling guilty or concerned that you are ‘failing’ with your diabetes management worried about your risk of long-term complications frustrated that you cannot predict or ‘control’ diabetes fatigued from living with diabetes 24/7 Some people describe it as feeling burned out by the effort needed to manage their diabetes. When should I seek help? Everyone has a tough time with their mental health at some stage during their life. The most important step you can take is to seek assistance as soon as you feel like you are not coping. Here are some signs of stress that you can look out for: Disturbed sleep Irritability Anxiety, tension, sadness Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed Fatigue Body aches and pains, including headaches Finding it hard to concentrate or forgetting things Dealing with the stresses that life throws at us as well as managing diabetes can become overwhelming. Stressful events might look like: relationship conflicts carer responsibilities major life events feeling socially isolated having multiple illnesses to deal with. Where to seek help Having a team of people around you can help support you through tough times. This could be family and friends but remember it can also include people in your diabetes support team and other health professionals. There are a wide range of free or fee-based services available: Diabetes support: Diabetes Counselling Service NDSS Helpline 1800 637 700 Your doctor Your diabetes educator or diabetes health professional. Online services and telephone lines: Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 Lifeline 13 11 14 Headspace – supports young people with mental health, physical health (including sexual health), alcohol and other drug services, as well as work and study support. Kids helpline (under 25 years old) 1800 55 1800 New Access is a free health coaching program for anyone feeling stressed or overwhelmed about everyday life issues, such as work, study, relationships, health or loneliness. Available in parts of NSW, QLD and VIC, check out the postcode search to see if there’s a service near you. Head to Health can help you find digital mental health services from some of Australia’s most trusted mental health organisations. Head to Health brings together apps, online programs, online forums, and phone services, as well as a range of digital information resources. Whether you are trying to improve your own sense of wellbeing, looking for help with something that is bothering you, or helping someone you care about—Head to Health is a good place to start. HealthDirect links you to online therapy (also known as eTherapy) for psychological support, information, online counselling and other help. There are many different types of online therapy. Some are as simple as screening tools and checklists to help you decide if you want to seek help for a psychological issue. Some offer web seminars. Others have structured online programs. Some programs even offer an online counsellor or online psychologist to talk to. NDSS Adult Peer Support website – Having a team of people around you can help support you through tough times. This could be family and friends, and it can also include peer support, people in your diabetes support team and other health professionals. The NDSS Peer Support website is a free resource, to help adults living with diabetes access peer support information and find independently run peer support groups. Other health professionals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health workers Psychologists Australian Psychological Society | APS (psychology.org.au (your doctor can give you a mental health plan Mental health care and Medicare – Medicare – Services Australia for subsidised visits) Social workers Accredited Mental Health Social Workers – AASW – Australian Association of Social Workers and counsellors Psychiatrists Psychiatry explained | Your Health in Mind Mental health trained occupational therapists and registered nurses. What you can do Here are some ideas that can boost mental wellbeing: Letting your family and friends know about the challenges of living with diabetes. Sleep is crucial for good physical and mental health. Many people with diabetes experience disturbed sleep. If you feel your sleep is impacting your life talk to your doctor as a priority. Being part of a community can boost your mental wellbeing. Walking with a friend, joining an exercise group, eating with others or becoming a regular at the local coffee shop can make life feel more meaningful. Volunteering has been shown to have excellent health benefits too! Find an online or face-to-face group to provide you with support. The NDSS Peer Support website provides a space where people who live with diabetes can connect with peers, learn from others’ lived experiences and share their own diabetes journey. Get connected to others with diabetes on the Diabetes Australia online member community forum. It can be helpful to talk to people you have a shared experience with diabetes.