Does psychotherapy help treat type 2 diabetes?

Mr. Eliot LeBow, CDE, LCSW
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

Yes! There are even some of us who have created psychotherapy practices solely to help people living with diabetes. Diabetes comes with great change and great loss.  You lose your way of living, your lifestyle. The loss of one's past lifestyle would be less traumatic if it is addressed and processed out in psychotherapy.

it is a very traumatic event in the beginning and the traumas continue while living with it. As time goes on, depression can set in. Whether it is because a person is struggling to manage the day-to-day tasks or a person is dealing with complication, it is best to get emotional help to adjust. 

One of the interesting facts and most problematic is that most people have lived with diabetes for 5 to 15 years. During that time blood sugars rise and the symptoms of high blood sugars start impacting a person’s life long before diagnosis. The symptoms mirror the symptoms found in depression. 

High blood sugars trigger depression and depression causes poor motivation to control one's diabetes management, in turn causing higher blood sugar. This process is an endless cycle if left alone. Going to a therapist can help you turn that around. Once you get your depression under control, your blood sugar should follow suit.

Higher levels of anxiety, fear and guilt come along for the ride. In the here and now, diabetes management is like having a second job. If you have ever had 2 full-times jobs you probably can relate to some of the emotional stress and anxiety living with diabetes comes with.

Fear sets in even if you have no complications, and for some people, those thoughts become a consistent part of everyday life. This causes problems with relationships and the individual's emotional well-being.

The guilt and self-blame--"How did I let this happen?"--tears at the very fabric of one's emotional stability. How does one deal with that? How does one cope? It is a tough problem but there are answers.

Psychotherapists help facilitate growth and change in their clients. So clients with diabetes can find those answers and come to acceptance around living with chronic illness. It's not easy but it is a lot easier with someone to talk to without bias or judgment. 



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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.