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Three in five people with diabetes experience emotional or mental health problems

New research from Diabetes UK finds that one in five people living with diabetes uses counselling from a trained professional to help them manage their diabetes.

In one of the largest surveys carried out by Diabetes UK, 8,500 people of different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds from across the UK shared their experiences living with diabetes today, and what their hopes and fears were for the future.

Participants told us that diabetes affects their emotional wellbeing, with three in five (64 per cent) saying that they often or sometimes feel down because of their diabetes. One in three (33 per cent) said that diabetes got in the way of them or a family member doing things they wanted to do. Alarmingly only three in ten (30 per cent) said they definitely felt in control of their diabetes.

Future of Diabetes - Infographic
Findings from our Future of Diabetes report.

We also found out that that 19 per cent of respondents had used support or counselling from a trained professional to help them manage their diabetes, and nearly a third (32 per cent) had at some point relied on self-help materials including books, videos and resources found online.

The results of this research are included in our Future of Diabetes report,  which is launching at an event today in Parliament to mark World Diabetes Day  (14 November).

We are urging the Government to radically improve health outcomes for people with diabetes by committing to sustain transformation funding at current levels of £44 million, until at least 2021.

Speaking about this ground-breaking report, Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said:

“Diabetes affects more than 4.5 million people in the UK, and is the fastest-growing health crisis of our time. It can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and lower limb amputations. This new research brings to light the isolation that can come from managing an invisible condition, and how detrimental living with diabetes can be to a person’s emotional wellbeing without the right support. 

“Effective diabetes care requires that a person’s emotional needs are taken into account alongside their physical care needs. We want to see a system where specialist support – from people who understand diabetes – is made available to those who need it.

“But in order to achieve that, we need to see sustained funding of £44 million for the diabetes transformation programme, which sets out to improve the treatment and care for people with diabetes. Investing now will not only allow us to reap substantial financial and social benefits in the future, but more importantly it will help people to live well with diabetes today.”

Lis Warren was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1965 when she was 13 years old. She suffered with an eating disorder as a result of her diabetes for many years. It was only eight years ago that she received help.

Lis Warren struggled with an eating disorder for many years

She said: “When I was diagnosed, diabetes was seen as a medical condition but there was little understanding of the effect it has on mental health, so psychological support was unavailable. I only went to hospital once a year to review my blood glucose control

“I started struggling with food when I was a teenager. When I look back now, I had an eating disorder. After many years of a disordered relationship with food, I even had seizures from low blood sugar when I routinely ate insufficient carbohydrate to lose weight.”

Lis now spends her time campaigning about diabetes and volunteering. She gives and gets support talking to others who live with diabetes and struggle with their food.

“I didn’t speak to anyone about how diabetes had affected me psychologically for forty years. I could easily have died from regularly bingeing and dieting and I feel very lucky to be alive, and remain well, because I finally got support.”

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