A type 1 diabetes (T1D) diagnosis—whether for your child, yourself or a family member—can impact more than your physical health. T1D’s presence in a family often affects people’s social, behavioral and emotional well-being, known collectively as psychosocial health. These issues can affect people of all ages living with the disease. And mental health is a big part of that.
On October 10, we’ll be observing World Mental Health Day. Sponsored by the World Health Organization, this day offers the chance to raise awareness of the unique difficulties that people with T1D face every moment of every day and to call for more support for mental health issues in T1D.
Life with T1D
T1D is a disease that requires management 24/7. Insulin doses must be administered many times per day and calculated carefully based on food intake, exercise, stress, illness, the amount of time insulin remains active and other—often unpredictable—factors. People with T1D measure their blood-sugar levels through finger pricks at least six times a day (often much more), or by wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Even with a strict regimen, people with T1D may still experience dangerously high or low blood-sugar levels that can, in extreme cases, be life-threatening. Every person with T1D must become actively involved in managing his or her disease.
Mental Health Issues
Did you know that 1 in 4 people with diabetes are affected by depression? Or that 1/3 of adolescents with T1D develop diabetes distress, an emotional state where people experience feelings such as stress, guilt or denial that arise from living with T1D and the burden of self-management? Or that the prevalence of a generalized anxiety disorder in people with diabetes is 3 times higher than in the general population?
There are even anxieties that are exclusive to people with T1D. Fear of Hypoglycemia (FoH) is one of them. According to research published in the June 2019 supplement issue of the journal of the American Diabetes Association, FoH is associated with substandard diabetes management and reduced health outcomes.
T1D management dramatically impacts quality of life, and these issues can affect people of all ages living with T1D.
What is JDRF Doing?
At JDRF, we are leading the way to support psychosocial health issues in people with T1D. Through the JDRF Behavioral Health and Psychology Program, launched in 2018, we:
- Established the JDRF Diabetes Psychology Fellowship, which is a combination of clinical diabetes care and diabetes research, and have funded 24 fellows to date
- Have supported research initiatives to improve psychosocial health and outcomes for people with T1D
- Have updated our TypeOneNation Summits to have psychosocial content in their agendas
- Have created e-briefs for doctors on the association between diabetes and psychosocial care
We want to reduce the psychosocial challenges of T1D throughout the lifespan, to ultimately improve health outcomes for the T1D community.