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