What Is Diabetes Burnout?
Diabetes burnout is common. Burnout is best described as a state where you grow tired of managing your diabetes. Instead of sticking to your scheduled blood sugar checks, meal plan, insulin routine and exercise each day, you only do them partially or possibly neglect them all together for a period of time. You know you should count those carbohydrates and check your blood before eating that bagel with cream cheese...but you just can’t seem to muster the motivation.
If you’ve lived with type 1 diabetes for very long, you have probably experienced some degree of management burnout. It’s easy to understand why it is so common. Diabetes is one of the most challenging chronic conditions because it requires almost constant awareness and maintenance.
Here’s a short list of areas that need daily attention:
- Being conscious of what and how much you eat and drink
- Checking blood sugar throughout the day
- Planning activity/exercise into your routine
- Taking insulin and other medications as prescribed
- Managing stress
All of these are vital parts of your diabetes management. Some days you feel up to the challenge. But, there are probably days when you feel exhausted or just plain discouraged by the never-ending process of managing your diabetes. This can then lead to a feeling of helplessness -- that your life is out of control.
If the state of burnout lingers too long, it leads to poor self-care and greatly increases the risk of diabetes-related complications. Be assured that you are not alone. Many people with type 1 struggle with these same tendencies.
Burnout vs. Depression
It’s important to make a distinction between management burnout and depression. Burnout is usually a temporary state of fatigue or discouragement that comes and goes. It can last for days or weeks but typically gets better as you take advantage of resources, get support and renew your perspective.
Prolonged burnout can lead to depression, which is a state where you experience a sad mood persistently for at least two weeks. Depression not only makes managing your diabetes difficult, but it can cause you to lose interest in things you previously found interesting and enjoyable. If you suspect that you are depressed, you should seek help from your doctor and possibly a mental health professional familiar with treating chronic conditions (especially diabetes).
Do you think you are experiencing diabetes management burnout? Take this brief questionnaire to find out.
The good news is that you can win the battle over diabetes management burnout most of the time.
Avoid Diabetes Burnout. Joslin Diabetes Center. Accessed February 1, 2009. http://www.joslin.org/managing_your_diabetes_596.asp