Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Editor’s Letter - The lat­est health ad­vice from Dr Sarah Jarvis

From our GP

QMy hus­band was re­cently di­ag­nosed with type 2 di­a­betes and he won’t talk about it. In fact, he won’t talk to me at all – he gets home from work and mopes. What’s go­ing on?

AType 2 di­a­betes is dif­fer­ent from type 1, which has noth­ing to do with life­style and is when the body’s im­mune sys­tem turns on it­self, stop­ping the pan­creas pro­duc­ing in­sulin. With type 2, the pan­creas pro­duces in­sulin but the body be­comes re­sis­tant to it, and this is of­ten re­lated to in­ac­tiv­ity, diet and ex­cess weight. It also fre­quently runs in fam­i­lies and, in years gone by, was usu­ally di­ag­nosed in older peo­ple, who ended up with com­pli­ca­tions such as blind­ness or am­pu­ta­tion. There is a chance, then, that your hus­band has had ex­pe­ri­ence of di­a­betes in his fam­ily, and as­so­ciates it with get­ting old or be­com­ing dis­abled.

How­ever, new treat­ments for type 2 di­a­betes make it eas­ier to con­trol blood pres­sure, blood sugar and choles­terol, dra­mat­i­cally cut­ting risks of com­pli­ca­tions. But many peo­ple with di­a­betes suf­fer men­tal health prob­lems, pos­si­bly re­lated to their fears. In fact, a re­cent sur­vey sug­gests that over half of peo­ple with di­a­betes need help for stress, anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion or other men­tal health prob­lems – com­pared to about 1 in 4 peo­ple in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.

Your hus­band is likely to have been told to ad­dress his life­style when he was di­ag­nosed – he may have been chal­lenged about his diet and ex­er­cise. Peo­ple with type 2 di­a­betes are at greater risk of hav­ing heart at­tacks and strokes, but reg­u­lar ex­er­cise and weight re­duc­tion can bring huge ben­e­fits.

Your sup­port will be in­valu­able in help­ing him im­prove his life­style and re­duce his risks, but you need to find a way in. You could raise your con­cerns about re­duc­ing your own risk of health prob­lems and en­list his sup­port. Make it clear that you want the best for him and avoid lec­tur­ing him about his life­style.

Be there for your loved one when they want to talk

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