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Diabetes Denial: Acknowledging the Disease for Better Care

With any chronic disease, accepting the changes that will be needed for management can be very difficult.  With diabetes, it can be harder, because the behavioral and lifestyle changes you have to make affect a lot of different areas of your life.

Why People Deny their Diabetes Management

These lifestyle changes involve understanding the diabetes disease process, nutritional management, physical activity, medications, glucose monitoring, psychosocial adjustment, and more.  Strategies for diabetes management and care are a part of all aspects of your everyday life.  This can make diabetes very overwhelming and hard to deal with.

People with diabetes may not be ready to face the reality of their diabetes and fear the risks and complications involved with diabetes, so they avoid healthcare and don’t follow the proper means for diabetes management. In addition, signs of high blood glucose can be subtle, so some find it easier to ignore their diabetes and say “I’m doing fine” or “My body is fine.”

Recognizing Denial

Signs that you are denying your diabetes, or not managing your diabetes in the right way, can include: burnout, frustration, feeling overwhelmed, disengaging from your health care team, or not practicing recommended diabetes care on a regular basis.

If you recognize any of these signs, it’s very important that you share your fears and concerns with your health care provider.  Work with your doctor on the areas in your diabetes management that you’re already doing, and from there you can take gradual steps to improve your diabetes management. 

It is more important to have a realistic sense of the risks involved with diabetes and to come to terms with how you can improve your diabetes, than to believe that perfection is the goal.

To make an appointment with Joslin’s Mental Health Unit.

Page last updated: September 15, 2019