Psychology of Sickness
-- Call it a classic case of the mind-body connection. A new study
of Type I diabetics says a person's emotional and physical well-being
are strongly interrelated.
the physical-mental relationship in diabetics, researchers at
the University of South Carolina surveyed 49 adults on a variety
of topics. The topics included the impact the illness has on their
life, the degree of stress or negative emotions they experience,
how they cope with the disease, and whether anticipation of future
complications affects them.
also evaluated the patients' physical health, including the severity
of their diabetes and blood sugar levels.
the results showed that those who felt better physically also
felt better mentally.
data showed that the more positive the attitude toward the illness,
the better the patients' mental and physical health," says
study author Dr. Kay McFarland, an endocrinologist at the University
of South Carolina School of Medicine.
it goes both ways -- the people who reported being more negatively
impacted by the illness mentally had higher blood sugar,"
appear in the current issue of the journal Endocrine Practice.
Type I diabetes don't produce any insulin, and must take daily
insulin injections to stay alive. The condition most often occurs
in children and young adults and accounts for 5 to 10 percent
of diabetes cases.
Those in the
survey who had higher blood sugar -- hence less-controlled diabetes
-- reported experiencing more stress and more trouble coping with
the illness. They also anticipated more complications in the future.
high blood sugar caused the less-upbeat attitude, or vice-versa,
is up for speculation, says McFarland.
can say it goes both ways: that health affects the way you feel
about your illness, and the way you feel about your illness affects
your health. There's not necessarily a particular cause-and-effect
that was established, but they're interrelated," McFarland
Bloomgarden, an associate clinical professor at Mount Sinai School
of Medicine in New York City, says it's not hard to understand
either the physical or emotional toll a disease like Type I diabetes
with diabetes are ill, and people who are ill are often depressed
-- and maybe people with diabetes are even more depressed,"
he says. "The fact is, if you have diabetes, you have [a
high risk of] heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure;
you're on six or eight different pills, and it really becomes
almost a way of life to have the illness."
can easily see how this can go in both directions -- the [physical
and emotional factors] are tremendously interrelated," he
says as long as there's evidence that a person's attitude can
directly affect the physical aspects of his illness, it's up to
doctors to help him keep a positive attitude.
conclusion from this is that many of us in medicine tell everyone
that high blood sugar is going to cause problems, such as eye
and kidney problems," McFarland says. "My feeling is
to downplay that and try saying, 'Hey, let's find ways to get
your blood sugar down and instead of concentrating on the bad
outcome, let's concentrate on what we can do to make a difference.'
a believer in individual power and the ability to determine our
own outcomes, and it's my job to help other people believe that,
too," McFarland adds.
Do: Visit the American Diabetes Association to learn more
Type I diabetes. And here's some helpful information on
stress and diabetes.
Reference Source 101