Mental health has long been known as a determinant of physical health, a fact made painfully obvious during a pandemic. For those living with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, stress, isolation and uncertainty can bring on anxiety and depression, which in turn can lead to poorer self-care and worsening physical conditions. Add to that, diabetes increases the risk for cardiovascular disease—the number-one cause of death for patients with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association—and a challenging health picture emerges.
Receiving a diagnosis of a chronic disease is fraught with emotions, uncertainty and, potentially, heightened anxiety around impending lifestyle changes. In the case of diabetes, meal planning, blood glucose monitoring, insulin dosing and regular exercise become the new normal, and the enormity of confronting the condition can leave patients feeling emotionally drained.
If left unchecked, these emotional and mental burdens—often called diabetes burnout—can start a downward spiral of complications, made all the more serious from the inherent risk of associated heart disease.