Where can I get information and support for my diabetes?

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You are an expert regarding your body and your life. Your health professional is an expert in prescribing treatment and promoting healing. Combining these talents allows you both to make decisions together that impact your health. This is called “shared decision-making” or SDM. If you have diabetes, sharing in decisions is not new. In other health conditions, however, this has not been the case and efforts are underway to change that.

Many health conditions can be treated with different therapies. Having more therapeutic options and medications for treating a disease is great but it also means more decision-making to identify which is best for you personally. For example, you may decide to manage your diabetes with lifestyle changes, or you may decide to add a pill or insulin. If so, which one or combination is best for you and your lifestyle? These are all shared decision-making opportunities you can make with your healthcare provider. Remember, you are an informed and powerful force behind your healthcare decisions, so take action and get involved!

One place to start learning to manage your diabetes is the American Diabetes Association (ADA). ADA can tell you about support and educational groups that you can attend. By participating in these groups, you can meet other people with diabetes and healthcare professionals. Whether you are seeking more information or want to talk to people who share your experiences, a support group may be just the thing. You may be able to find a diabetes care partner, and you can support each other.

In addition to education and support groups, ADA can mail you a packet of information on request. They can also answer any questions you may have about the disease or some of the practical issues in managing diabetes: health care, health insurance and referrals. They also have books, magazines and publications available that may help. Visit www.diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (342-2383) to get started.

Counseling is another healthy way of helping people deal with some of life’s difficult problems, including diabetes. Counseling involves an ongoing conversation between you and your therapist. This may help you find a new perspective on the problems in your life and discover the patterns in your actions. He or she may also offer suggestions that may help you see the situation from another viewpoint and may help you find new ways of coping.

One of the most important aspects is to find a therapist you trust. You need to feel comfortable with your therapist and feel that he or she is helpful. It often means finding the right personality match. Someone who works well with one person may not necessarily be compatible with someone else.

Living with diabetes means adjusting to the complex interplay among family relations, personality, emotions, lifestyle habits and diabetes management. Therapy will help you learn to take the initiative and necessary action to take charge of your diabetes as well as the conflicting emotions that go along with it.