Balancing the chemical equation: Diabetes & Mental Wellness!

For patients with both diabetes and a psychiatric disorder, resolving your mental health issues is vital to managing your diabetes care. For some people medication is necessary; for others, holistic practices like meditation and yoga help. Sometimes it’s a combination of the two. Just about everyone can benefit from weekly or biweekly therapy sessions.

But what’s the right course for you? Determining the right course of treatment takes time, patience and collaboration with your psychiatrist. If you have ADD or ADHD, getting and staying on medication could do wonders when it comes to day-to-day diabetes maintenance—but getting your dosage right and instilling healthy habits doesn’t happen overnight. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders, you may try medication and find that it works—or you may decide you don’t like the side effects, and try an alternative route involving meditation, breathing exercises and talk therapy. Ultimately, it’s difficult to generalize about psychiatric treatment. No single method is best for all people. When deciding whether or not to go on medication, consider this:

  1. Psychiatric medication is a way to balance the chemical equation in the mind. It allows for individuals who struggle with their diabetes to focus on their diabetic needs.
  2. While psychiatric medication is not a magic pill to take away your problems, these drugs help millions of people lead more functional, fulfilling lives every day.
  3. Every person is different, and the course of treatment that works for you may not work for someone with similar psychiatric symptoms.
  4. Treating mental health issues is an introspective process. No one can determine the best treatment for you—your psychiatrist can recommend a course of action, but only you can decide if it is improving your quality of life.
  5. Mental rehabilitation is hard work, and developing healthy habits takes time and diligence, whether or not you take medication. It’s all about what you are willing to commit too.
  6. Only a mental health professional like a psychotherapist or psychiatrist has the knowledge base to diagnose a psychiatric illness. If you’d like to explore your medication options, make sure to see a specialist—not a general practitioner.

It’s important to remember that the road to good health is long, and you probably will experience a few setbacks along the way. Take them in stride, and don’t lose sight of your goal: a happier, healthier you.

What are your experiences with medication, mental illness, and diabetes management? Share your stories, tips, questions and more in our comments section.

Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

For more information go to his website or Facebook Page or set up a free 30-minute phone consultation to see if talk therapy is right for you.

Medical Disclaimer:
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Before making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.

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