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Diabetes Mellitus – What Impact Does It Have On Relationships And Personal Development?

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

A diabetes diagnosis brings about various changes in one’s lifestyle and health. While some can cope with it effectively, others may experience behavioural health issues such as anxiety, stress, mood swings and even relationship issues. Though a healthy lifestyle is advisable for everyone, those with diabetes do not have a choice.

If not managed properly, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes complications can be serious, especially in obese individuals, further impacting your behavioural health and relationships.

Diabetes Challenges faced after Diagnosis

There are certain challenges that a person faces after a diabetes diagnosis:

  • Treatment expenses – As a couple, most of your finances may be planned and figured out, including savings. A diabetes diagnosis may change it all and add a burden of extra expenses for regular tests, doctor’s fees and medications. 
  • Augmented need for care & support – Diabetes tends to have an enormous impact on your physical health which means you may feel tired and weak more often than usual. Sometimes, you may not be able to work or even perform your daily chores, which can add to the stress. 
  • Family responsibilities – If you are feeling weak physically or mentally, you may not be able to fulfil your family responsibilities as efficiently as you expect to. This may act as an extra pressure trigger in your mind. Postpone some tasks and unburden your mind. Another way to deal with diabetes is to join a diabetes community and interact with people suffering from the same condition.
  • Constant anxiety about the routine – Diabetes requires you to eat at regular intervals, monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and take your medications at a specific time each day. If for some reason, you are unable to take your meals on time when you have already taken your medicines, your blood sugar levels can dip, leading to fatigue, drowsiness and lack of concentration.

If such episodes get repeated a few times, you may feel anxious every time you have missed a meal or a medication. 

There may be instances when you are not able to stick to the schedule that may lead to a fluctuation of low blood sugar levels and further complications of both type 1 type 2 diabetes. 

  • Sexual life is affected – In women, high blood sugar can damage the nerve cells that may result in lowered sexual arousal and reduced release of vaginal lubricant. This may result in painful sex and decreased chances of orgasm. 

In men, the damage to the blood vessels may result in reduced blood flow to the sexual organs resulting in loss or inability to hold the erection, a medical condition known as erectile dysfunction. In addition to this, low testosterone levels may also affect the sexual drive.

Some people find it difficult to express themselves or may feel guilty for having been diagnosed with diabetes. They feel it is their responsibility to deal with it on their own without anyone’s help. You must understand that it is alright to ask for help from your partner and family because when one is dealing with a health condition, one tends to feel vulnerable. A tendency to shun natural emotions may lead to behavioural health challenges that may impact your relationship. 

Diabetes Coping Strategies

Here are a few tips on how you and your partner can work as a team to tackle diabetes:

  • Acceptance

You may feel that you do not need help in dealing with diabetes and may not consider making your partner a part of your diabetes mellitus care plan. You must acknowledge the fact that dealing with diabetes is an integral part of your life and you will require your partner’s help constantly. Accepting is the first step to managing it.

  • Transparent Communication

Dealing with fluctuating blood sugar levels has an enormous physical and mental impact. It is important to communicate your feelings to your partner so that appropriate adjustments can be made. Your partner can help you if you communicate your needs and expectations.

  • Awareness

You will have to make a conscious effort to understand your type 2 diabetes and its complications. Your doctor shall also guide you on the various measures you would be required to take to avoid emergencies.

The more informed and aware you are, the better you will be able to cope with your symptoms. 

It is always helpful to visit your doctor along with your partner so that both of you can resolve your concerns and monitor your progress together. If your partner is aware of the minute aspects such as the recent blood sugar levels, dosage of the medicine, the recommended diet, they can most effectively extend the necessary support and care.

  • Follow a proper schedule 

Various studies have suggested that following a fixed schedule will help you adapt to the routine in a much coordinated manner. Humans are creatures of habit and if we add a compulsive time limit to each task, it will become a habit in no time. Hence, fix the time for your meals, medications, snacks, exercise and even for checking your blood sugar level.

Working out with your partner helps you keep motivated and aids in maintaining a healthy lifestyle to manage diabetes.

  • Seek professional guidance

Tackle diabetes efficiently by maintaining a cordial relationship with your spouse and working as a team. If at any point you feel that you are facing relationship issues, consult a relationship counsellor or a therapist. 

Your behavioural health depends on the quality of your relationship with your spouse and family. You may have to make certain adjustments initially but if you are patient enough, inculcate cooperation and feel comfortable with each other, managing diabetes will then seem like a cakewalk.  

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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