Diabetes distress and diabetes burnout are two terms that are discussed frequently, but what exactly do they mean? Fisher, Hessler, Polonsky, & Mullan (2012) define diabetes-related distress as “the unique, often hidden, emotional burdens and worries that are part of the spectrum of patient experience when managing a severe, demanding chronic disease like diabetes.” This distress is typically understood as relating to 4 interconnected domains: (1) the emotional impact of living with a chronic health condition; (2) the stress associated with diabetes management; (3) the pressures associated with managing social relationships while living with diabetes; and (4) the stress associated with managing relationships with healthcare professionals treating your diabetes.
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Sometimes dealing with a mental health issue feels too big to do on your own or with the help of friends, family, and your usual support network. You might feel that it is time to start exploring community programs and public mental health supports to help you manage, but it can be difficult to know where to begin.
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Before experiencing life with a chronic illness you likely had less interaction with the healthcare system. You probably only saw a doctor for an occasional check-up or to get a prescription for an acute illness, like antibiotics for a bacterial infection. However, when you or someone you care for was diagnosed with diabetes, your relationship with the healthcare system likely changed quite suddenly and quite drastically; you went from seeing a physician as an occasional acquaintance to managing several long-term relationships throughout a whole healthcare team.
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