According to a study, 14% of people with diabetes have a generalized anxiety disorder.
A diabetes diagnosis and the lifestyle changes imposed by this new condition often cause worry and anxiety. In some people, this anxiety becomes significant and overwhelming. Anxiety is more prevalent in people with diabetes than in the general population.
Fortunately, generalized anxiety can be treated, hence the importance of quickly recognizing the signs.
Consequences for people with diabetes
People with generalized anxiety experience great distress about their diabetes. This distress can lead to continuous worry, agitation, obsessive monitoring of their blood glucose (sugar) levels, constant concern about certain short-term (e.g.: hypoglycemia) or long-term complications.
Generalized anxiety can also undermine their personal and professional relationships.
How to recognize generalized anxiety
People suffering from generalized anxiety exhibit the following symptoms on an almost permanent basis, for at least six months:
- Excessive worry or concern about daily events or activities
- Trouble controlling these worries
- Agitation, feeling keyed up or on edge
- Easily fatigued
- Trouble concentrating or memory blanks
- Disturbed sleep
- Feeling tense
What to do if you have these symptoms
If you experience these symptoms, it is important to talk to your doctor or a psychologist so that you can be thoroughly evaluated. You can also talk to a nurse, a pharmacist, a social worker or a dietitian. They can help you assess the seriousness of your symptoms and refer you to a professional.
Once you have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety, you will usually be treated with medication and psychotherapy.
Family and friends
If a family member or friend exhibits symptoms of generalized anxiety, encourage her to seek help. Your support, like the support offered by a self-help group, can help her heal. Remember: simply by providing an attentive, non-judgmental ear, you can help her overcome her anxieties and feel better.
Consult the pschosocial aid section of the useful links.
Research and text: Diabetes Québec Team of Health Care Professionals
Scientific review: Dr. Alain Janelle, Psychologist
July 2014 (updated on July 2018)
Robinson D, Coons M, Haensel H et al. Diabetes Canada 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada: Diabetes and Mental Health. Can J Diabetes 2018; 42 (Suppl 1): S130-S141.
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