Social Treatment to Diabetes: What improvements should be performed to combat discrimination and alleviate diabetes distress?

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Shreya Nandan,  Dr. Shampa Gupta, and Dr. Kartikeya Ojh, all Global Health advocates. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Diabetes is one of the most common lifestyle diseases that affects 1 out of every 10 people throughout the globe. The prevalence of diabetes has been rapidly rising especially in low and middle-income countries in recent years. Along with the myriad of symptoms and disabilities that a person with diabetes has to go through, one of the most significant and yet the most underrated symptoms is often overlooked.  Diabetes distress has been defined as the emotional distress that a person with diabetes has to go through due to their condition. It includes the shame, stigma, guilt, and isolated feeling that might be triggered due to some social experience or emotional burnout. Eventually, it leads to depression, anxiety, and lack of effort towards self-care, and that may lead to worsening of their health.

Some of the improvements that we can bring about in our community to combat diabetes distress are in the form of changes in the language we use such as being more thoughtful and deliberate towards those with diabetes. To promote an all-inclusive healthy community, we need to spread awareness among people regarding the ill effects of special kinds of treatment for these people and thus branding them into a different category. These kinds of steps serve to isolate those suffering from a lifestyle disorder and thus act as a constant reminder of their condition. 

Setting up small support groups could be a step in the direction of making them feel more included and a reminder that they are not alone in this battle, but this step has its fair share of complications in the form of ineffective results when the method of information delivery focuses mostly on the “you should ” approach.

Provision of counselling services for those dealing with diabetes distress could also go a long way in helping these people deal with their condition. Health literacy among the general public about diabetes and its complications, familial support to the individual in the form of diet modifications as well as assistance in the relentless self-care routine that a diabetic has to go through to avoid complications can go a long way in preventing diabetes distress and burnout. 

Improvements and behaviour change can be implemented more effectively if the members of the community are willing to play active roles to achieve a target. The first step for such changes should begin with properly and sufficiently conveying the information to the public along with the reason for the said change as well. Numerous studies carried out throughout the globe has revealed that people are more likely to play an active role to achieve a target if they are provided with the correct information along with the reason and the benefits for the same.

References

1.https://nutritionaustralia.org/division/nsw/reducing-the-impact-of-diabetes-stigma-in-our-community/ 

2.https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes 

3.https://www.diabetes.org.uk/professionals/resources/shared-practice/psychological-care/emotional-health-professionals-guide/chapter-3-diabetes-distres 

About the authors

Ms. Shreya Nandan,  Dr. Shampa Gupta, and Dr. Kartikeya Ojha are Global Health advocates. Shreya, a 4th-year medical student in Sikkim, aspires to be a general surgeon someday. She is passionate about using her skills and education for the benefit of humanity. Dr. Shampa Gupta, working as a Cardiac RMO, Hospital in West Bengal. Is a passionate researcher, and Want to make a change in the future, and people’s lives with my knowledge and skill. Dr.Kartikeya, an incredible public speaker, working as a Medical Intern in Sikkim, is a voracious researcher. He aspires to become a compassionate Interventional Cardiologist.

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