In the special "Diabetes and Psychology" issue of its flagship journal American Psychologist, various researchers discussed the contributions of psychology in improving the overall health of diabetics and people at risk of developing the disease. They talked about how family and friends can provide mental and emotional support for the patient during these trying times, discussed the new behavioral intervention programs that are now available, and covered the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders that are linked to diabetes.
Dr. Christine Hunter of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explained about the prevalence, persistence, and price exacted by diabetes on its patients. She remarked that there are millions of diabetics in the U.S. and the rest of the world, while a far larger number is vulnerable to the onset of the medical condition.
The right kind of behaviors, psychology, and relationships can delay or even prevent Type 2 diabetes from developing. Coping and self-management skills can likewise reduce the chances of complications associated with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. (Related: Brain entrainment may potentially help avoid or correct dyslexia, study suggests.)
Hunter warned that the coming decades will witness a massive increase in the number of diagnosed cases. More people will be affected by diabetes, be it by developing the disease themselves or having a family member or friend become diabetic.
Psychologists can patients manage their disease and improve their quality of life. Hunter provided an overview of the ways by which behavioral and social sciences could improve the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
Hunter also covered the ways by which psychologists can better handle diabetes in the present day as well as in the future. For example, there are few psychologists who can work alongside the medical team and improve the lifestyles of their patients based on the unique needs of a particular diabetic.
New psychologists will need the right kind of training to amend the problem. They must also use the right approach when it comes to providing care, coach patients into altering their lifestyles and encourage patients to maintain their healthier practices.
Researcher Cynthia Berg of the University of Utah noted that the key relationships a diabetic has with family, friends, lovers, and/or healthcare professionals can affect and be affected by the disease. Maintaining good relationships with their loved ones and caretakers give diabetics more reasons to work even harder.
Psychosocial factors can also affect the ability of people to manage diabetes. The patient's beliefs, behaviors, and emotions can improve or impair their ability to maintain the arduous treatment regimen. If a patient believes he or she cannot stand one more serving of a healthy meal or doesn't feel like exercising, he or she is likely to drop the activity.
The heavy demands and stress of diabetes management can lead to psychological conditions. A psychologist must be prepared to deal with anxiety disorders, depressive syndromes, disordered eating, and serious mental illnesses.
Finally, given the increasing number of young people who are diagnosed with diabetes, psychologists must be able to encourage both the patient and their family to participate in the management of the disease. It is vital for the young diabetic to get encouragement and support from family members.
Read about more ways to improve the management and treatment of diabetes at DiabetesScienceNews.com.