World diabetes day: mental illness and diabetes
Rethink Advice Service
Today is World Diabetes Day. Three in five people living with diabetes experience emotional or mental health problems. We asked Dominic from our advice and information service to tell us more about the condition and what you can do if you are concerned.
It’s challenging enough to live with mental illness. But when it is also accompanied by a physical health condition such as diabetes the challenges can be greater. 3.7 million people in the UK live with diabetes. And that figure will increase to more than 5 million by 2025 if the current trend continues.
People who have severe mental health problems are more likely to have diabetes. Especially if they take anti-psychotic medication. People who are overweight, have high blood pressure or have previously had a heart attack or a stroke are more likely to develop diabetes too.
Anti-psychotics can be used to treat schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. One of their problematic side effects is weight gain. So it is important for users of the medication to maintain a good weight and keep a healthy blood pressure. You can ask your doctor about medication and diabetes risk if you are not sure.
It always sensible for people to have regular physical health checks which include a diabetes check. But if you take anti-psychotics you should be given regular health checks by your GP as a matter of course, every 12 months at least.
You should see your GP immediately if you are showing signs of diabetes, such as:
- feeling very thirsty
- urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night
- feeling very tired
- weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
- itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
- cuts or wounds that heal slowly
- blurred vision
Controlling your weight can help to prevent diabetes or keep it under control if you have it. Eating healthily, taking regular exercise and limiting alcohol intake are all important.
People who live with physical health conditions such as diabetes are at greater risk of developing mental health issues. You can see your GP if you live with diabetes and feel anxious, have a low mood or if your mental health is affected in another way.
If diabetes is not properly controlled it can lead to serious damage to your body, including feet or eyes. And increase the risk of a stroke or lead to heart attacks or heart failure. But diabetes can be managed so that people can lead healthy fulfilling lives. It needs to be managed with medication if you have type 1 diabetes.
If you want to know more about Diabetes or how to manage it you can contact Diabetes UK or read their website:
Phone: 0345 123 2399