Diabetes and Eating Disorders
Receiving any type of negative, life-altering diagnosis can have a negative impact on a patient psychologically. An eating disorder is one psychological effect commonly observed among diabetics.
Individuals who suffer from depression or a poor self-image may stop taking the correct dosage of insulin. When this happens, the lack of insulin will prevent their bodies from processing foods and will keep the patient’s weight down. However, this is a very dangerous habit to get into since it can cause extremely high levels of blood sugar.
This behavior is more commonly observed in female youths who have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. If you suspect that someone you know suffers from type 1 diabetes and a possible eating disorder, it is important to encourage them to seek help immediately since the consequences can be deadly.
What Are the Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder?
In addition to symptoms related to depression, there are other signs that can help you identify if an individual with diabetes is suffering from an eating disorder. Symptoms of an eating disorder may include:
- Irregular menstrual periods that will often skip cycles.
- Unexplained elevations in the individual’s blood sugar levels.
- Concerns about weight and self-image that are accompanied by changes in eating patterns.
- Repeated episodes of nausea, vomiting or stomach pains.
Diabetes and Eating Disorder Risk Factors
An eating disorder is a very serious concern regardless of the circumstances. However, when the individual also suffers from type 1 diabetes, the effects can be even more dangerous since the absence of prescribed insulin will elevate blood sugar to dangerous levels.
However, there are also other serious complications such as a high risk of developing infections as well as more frequent episodes of diabetic ketoacidosis. In some instances, the disorder can even cause nerve damage, kidney disease, and even heart disease.
Therefore, if you recognize any of the warning signs, it is crucial to seek help immediately.
Diabetes Eating Disorder Treatment
Helping a loved one overcome an eating disorder is not an easy task. You should never scold or yell at them since the root cause often stems from a poor self-image. Instead, steps should be taken to help them feel positive about themselves and learn how to properly manage their diabetes.
It is often helpful to talk to them about it to find out where their negative feelings stem from. If they struggle with weight issues, it can be helpful to encourage them to exercise more often and eat a healthy balanced diet.
In more extreme cases, simply talking to the individual may not work. If this is the case, you may want to consider having them visit a psychologist or a treatment center where they can work out their emotional problems in a healthier way.