Psychological Problems Associated With Diabetes

Subject: Psychiatry
Pages: 4
Words: 1056
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College


Review and the Prevalence of Diabetes in the United Arabs Emirates

Diabetes Mellitus represents a group of heterogeneous disorders characterized by high blood glucose levels. When the disease is not treated, a person can develop many complications such as blindness, kidney problems, heart problems stroke, and loss of limbs among others. There are two types of diabetes (that is), Type I or juvenile diabetes and Type II or maturity-onset diabetes. Type I diabetes usually begins in childhood and many patients suffering from this form of diabetes require insulin treatment because their bodies produce very minute amounts of insulin. Meanwhile, Maturity onset diabetes is mainly associated with obesity. In this case, dietary measures and medications are enough to counter the effects of the disorder. Therefore, there is no need for insulin treatment.

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Currently, most people in developing countries are leading the kind of lifestyles that have existed in western countries for a long time such as eating poorly, driving cars, and leading physically inactive lives. Consequently, the number of people with obesity has been on the rise of late (Chenoweth, 2007, p.43). For instance, the rates of obesity and diabetes have been on the rise in the United Arabs Emirates’ population of late. According to the statistics given by the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, almost 19.5 percent of people living in the Arabian Gulf Countries are suffering from Diabetes (El Shammaa, 2008, para.1). The figures further indicate that over 40 percent of people 60 years and older have diabetes in these countries. The numbers are expected to increase as time goes by. In addition, 75 percent of the deaths that occur in UAE nations are associated with Diabetes Mellitus. Moreover; among non-nations, the disorder causes 31 percent of deaths.

Diabetes is currently one of the fastest-growing diseases in the UAE. It has been discovered that one out of five people in the age bracket of 20 to 79 years is suffering from Diabetes with the same percentage of the population expected to develop such complications in the future (El Shammaa, 2008, para.3). In 2008, the UAE is the second among the countries that have shown the highest prevalence of diabetes. The Gulf region has a population of about 33 million of which 3.5 million people are suffering from diabetes.

Diabetes has a variety of symptomatic complications as indicated above. However, particular groups of diabetic patients suffer from several psychological complications associated with the onset and diagnosis of diabetes. These complications may range from psychological distress, lack of sleep, and depression to social withdrawal and anxiety among other complications. In the following discussion, we are going to look into these complications in detail in addition to giving the recommended ways of dealing with these problems.

Psychological complications associated with Diabetes

These complications contribute greatly to the health status of diabetic patients. The first psychological complication is associated with the initial distress that is diagnosed with diabetes. It is then followed by emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, and eating difficulties (O’Donohue et al., 2005, p.331).


Studies do show that most people with diabetes are more likely to have depression. A depressed patient may not have the energy or the motivation to observe good diabetic management practices such as observing the right diet. A suicidal adolescent diabetic patient may consume potentially lethal doses of insulin due to being depressed. Hyperglycemia in diabetes can also result from the stress that is associated with depression…


Anxiety is also frequent in diabetic patients than in the rest of the population. Its symptoms are sweating, tremors, palpitations, and headaches. Anxiety has also been associated with fear of hyperglycemia that can lead to cases of phobia. Anxiety also causes an increase in the effects of hyperglycemia besides leading to hypoglycemia through causing increased secretion of the stress hormones and interruption of the self-care behaviors (Williams&Pickup, 2004, p.225).

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Cognitive dysfunction

When children are diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 5 to 6 years old, they run a higher risk of suffering from cognitive dysfunction. This complication progresses further during adolescence into impaired learning and memory. This is mainly linked with hypoglycemic conditions that damage the child’s brain since most children under the age of 5 are more sensitive to hypoglycemic brain damage than those above 5 years (Williams&Pickup, 2004, p.226).

Defects in psychomotor tasks, attention, learning, and memory

These complications usually appear in adult diabetic patients and are mainly associated with chronic hyperglycemia. Additionally, chronic hyperglycemia has led to cases of peripheral neuropathy.


Generally, remedies for most of these complications exist involving both psychiatric and therapeutic approaches. For instance, treatment of depression takes into account measures aimed at engaging the patients in discussions, giving them advice on how to control the sugar levels, giving maximum attention to a sensitive issue that can cause anxiety in the patients among other measures. The effects of depression can also be reversed using antidepressants on diabetic patients such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Sleep disorders on the other hand are reversed by observing regular exercises, avoidance of the daytime naps, large meals, tobacco, and alcohol among other caffeine-containing foods in the evenings.

The psychoeducational measures aimed at managing diabetic patients can be categorized into five main areas (that is); (1) offering educational information (2) provision of coping skills and management of stress (3) giving social support to all patients (4) management of patients’ diet and finally (5) engaging the patients in physical exercises.


People suffering from diabetes require special attention also referred to as social support. In this case, the patient should implement one or two changes aimed at taking control of the diabetic conditions under the supervision of a social worker or a volunteer. Encouraging the patients to lead a physically active life will ensure that cases of obesity are reduced and therefore reduce incidences of diabetes.

It is possible to prevent psychological complications that arise because of diabetes if they are detected early… Being aware of one’s health status is a critical step towards gaining control over diabetes. Additionally, knowing the disease allows one to make all the necessary changes required to control the disease. Thus, provision of the educational information regarding diabetes to diabetic patients is necessary.

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It is very important to provide psychiatric attention to depressed diabetic patients to avoid suicidal tendencies especially amongst the adolescents.

Reference List

  1. Chenoweth, D. H. (2007). Worksite health promotion, 2nd edn. USA. Web.
  2. El Shammaa, D. (2008). Diabetes is a growing problem in UAE – experts. Al-Nisr Publishing LLC 2009. Web.
  3. O’Donohue, W. T., Byrd, M. R., Cummings, N. A., and Herderson, D. A. (2005). Behavioral integrative care: treatments that work in the primary care setting. New York.Brunner-Roultledge. Web.
  4. Williams, G. &Pickup, C. J. (2004). Handbook of diabetes, 3rd ed.Massashusetts.Blackwall Science Ltd. Web.