How to Handle a Diabetes Diagnosis
If you or someone you know has just been diagnosed with diabetes, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed right now. Your mind may be full of questions and worries and it’s also possible that you’re experiencing a range of emotions from fear, frustration, disbelief, or confusion. Maybe even denial.
While the way you initially respond to your diagnosis may be outside of your control, it’s important to remember that whatever you’re feeling, you are not alone – and that diabetes can be effectively managed.
Amcal Senior Pharmacist James Nevile has had considerable experience dealing with newly-diagnosed individuals and says that there are a number of common reactions and things to consider following a diabetes diagnosis.
Key considerations for Type 1 diabetes
The diagnosis: from a parent’s perspective
“If your child has been diagnosed, try not to panic. Being better informed will make you feel much more in control. Find out about how to get access to diabetes educators in your area and where to go to get resources over and above your local healthcare team,” James said.
It’s important to instil in your child from the earliest stage just how important managing their condition will be.
From child to adult: managing the condition
As James explained, young people with Type 1 diabetes tend to go through a bit of a pattern. When they’re young and their parents or guardians are looking after them they’re very compliant and engaged. However, when they become independent, typically in their early twenties when they move away from home, they can become disengaged from their treatment.
“They might not live close to their childhood GP and they lose that local support network parents and family had previously provided. It’s important that parents stay closely connected when their diabetic child flies the nest, so that they can keep an eye on their child’s condition,” James said.
Common reactions to Type 2 Diabetes
According to James, individuals diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes tend to fall into two categories.
Detached from the diagnosis
The first group are disengaged or indifferent about their diagnosis and resistant to making lifestyle changes. They may have been given a prescription by their GP but need more information and guidance in order to appreciate the seriousness of their condition and the implications of ignoring doctors’ advice.
“For this group, it’s important that the people around them are clued up about their condition, as they are more likely to require guidance and encouragement to make changes to diet and lifestyle, and remember to take medications or go for health checks”.
Worried or anxious about the diagnosis
The second group are those who are beset with worry and anxiety and at a loss as to what to do next. They crave information and want to know how best to take their medication, where to go to get their eyes checked and so on.
“Obviously this group will find it easier to manage their condition going forward as they are already invested in getting healthy. For these individuals, friends and family will need to play the role of emotional support and provide ongoing reassurance,” he said.
Where to from here?
After the dust has settled and you’ve wrapped your head around your diagnosis, the next step is to start taking measures that will help you to feel more empowered and in control of your condition. James suggests taking the following steps.
Get to know your pharmacist and GP
They’ll be able to educate you on all of your options and allay any concerns, however big or small. Your GP may also provide a referral to see a local diabetes educator who can help tailor a plan and support you in making the necessary lifestyle changes. Your pharmacist is also easily accessible and can provide free advice without needing an appointment.
Build up your own health care team
Find and get to know the experts who will become your go-to team for treatment and advice. This includes your GP, pharmacists, optometrist and podiatrist.
Start making lifestyle modifications
If you’ve just been diagnosed, chances are you will need some support making the necessary lifestyle changes. Make sure you get your regular checks, stock up on healthy, diabetes-friendly foods and seek support from your friends and loved ones.
James Nevile is a registered pharmacist with almost twenty years’ experience in pharmacy who currently works as a Senior Pharmacist at Amcal and National Professional Services Manager at Sigma Pharmaceuticals.
James has been engaged by Sanofi to provide regular expert commentary for Diabetes-Care. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the view of Sanofi.