Diabetophobia (fear of diabetes): symptoms, causes and treatment
The extreme fear of diabetes can damage the health of the sufferer.
Diabetes has become a real epidemic in the first world, along with obesity. The causes of this have been the promotion of a sedentary lifestyle, the easy access to cheap food and the difficulty to develop a healthy and active lifestyle.
It is for this reason, and because every year millions of new cases of diabetes mellitus are diagnosed, many people are worried about developing this disease, feeling an irrational fear of being diabetic and all that it entails.
In this article we are going to deal with diabetophobia, the phobia of being diabetic, as well as explaining what it is.We will also explain what it is, what are its symptoms and causes, the degree of intrusion in the lives of those who suffer from it and the treatments used.
What is diabetophobia?
Diabetophobia is the irrational fear of suffering from diabetes. People who suffer from this specific phobia may suffer from a high level of anxiety at the mere thought of diabetes, being this type of situation extremely intrusive.These types of situations can be extremely intrusive in their daily lives.
Diabetes is a common medical condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin. the body does not produce enough insulininsulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar into energy to maintain bodily functions. The causes of this disease can be genetic and environmental, with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle being risk factors.
Usually, people suffering from diabetophobia are not diabetic. However, the simple fact of manifesting any symptom that may be related to diabetes can trigger a whole series of avoidance behaviors, anxiogenic thoughts and general discomfort.
Having diabetic family members may be a factor that triggers this type of phobia.The risk of suffering from diabetes is real because there is a family history of diabetes. As the genetic factor is present, diabetic phobics can exercise and control their diet in an extreme way.
The main symptom manifested in diabetophobia is anxiety. This can become so severe that it can even reach the point of panic attacks. In addition, people with diabetophobia may over-control their diet and exercise excessively..
Another symptom, common with phobias and anxiety disorders in general, is avoidance. Diabetic phobics tend to avoid people they know have been diagnosed with diabetes, even though this disease is not contagious. They do this avoidance mainly to avoid having to constantly think that they are in front of a person who has what they are afraid of.
In diabetophobia, high anxiety at the mere thought of diabetes is common, the constant fear of developing the diseaseThe inability to cope with anxiety, muscle stiffness, sweating and tremors are common.
Affect on daily life
People with diabetophobia can carry out some behaviors that represent a real intrusion in their daily life, preventing them from developing as free people because they are tied to habits that prevent them from developing a full and socially healthy life. It is common in this type of phobia to acquire habits related to food and exercise.
High sugar intake for long periods of time is considered a risk factor for developing diabetes, along with lack of exercise and having a high percentage of fat in the body. for developing diabetes, along with lack of exercise and having a high percentage of fat in the body. This is why people with diabetophobia may become obsessed with diet, avoiding any food that has a high carbohydrate intake. In addition, they may join the gym and spend hours in it or devote a lot of time to sports activities such as running, swimming or calisthenics.
While controlling what you eat and having an active lifestyle are fundamental pillars of a healthy lifestyle, the truth is that taking them to the extreme is seriously counterproductive. Avoiding carbohydrates at all costs and having an exclusively ketogenic diet can contribute to a lack of nutrients and, in the long run, develop health problems..
If to the lack of nutrients we add the practice of exercise in an abusive way, it can facilitate injuries and difficulties to recover after a very demanding sport activity.
In addition, one of the particularities that people with diabetes may manifest is the avoidance of people with diabetes. This can interfere with social life, since if someone with this disease is known, whether a friend, family member or even a partner, reducing contact can lead to problems in the relationship.
Possible causes of this disorder
To date, it is not known exactly what causes this type of phobia. It appears that there are certain genetic and environmental factors that cause this type of phobia, certain genetic and environmental factors may play a role in the manifestation of diabetophobia. in the manifestation of diabetophobia. For example, if one person in the family, such as the mother or father, has been very concerned about diabetes, it is possible that the children may worry exaggeratedly about this disease.
It may also be the case that the diabetophobic person suffered from some kind of childhood trauma related to the disease, such as the loss of a parent or a child.such as the loss of a diabetic relative.
Some people develop this phobia when they go to the doctor and the doctor informs them that their eating habits have led them to a situation close to diabetes. Being so close to developing the disease contributes to the development of extreme habits to avoid diabetes, such as excessive diet control.
Exposure therapy is often one of the common treatments when addressing phobic disorders. They are used to desensitize the person to that which produces an irrational fear. The problem that arises with diabetophobia is that it is not possible to expose a person to being diabetic because of the obvious ethical problem that this entails.
However, this does not imply that it is impossible to treat people diagnosed with this type of phobia by means of exposure. Also, and starting from cognitive-behavioral therapy, it is possible to help the person to be more aware of his or her problems. Knowledge about diabetes can be worked onBeing close to a diabetic person or helping him/her to have healthy life habits that will guarantee a good prevention of diabetes.
Another option is, in the psychiatric field, the use of psychotropic drugs. For phobias it is common to use anxiolytics and antidepressants. Anxiolytics help to prevent panic attacks, which is why they can be of great help in people with diabetes. As for antidepressants, although their name may indicate that they are only indicated for people with depression, the truth is that they have been helpful in the intervention and treatment of people with anxiety disorders.
Caffeine is a substance that activates and can lead to an anxious state.. One of the recommendations given by professionals to patients with phobia, especially diabetophobia, is to reduce drinks with this substance, such as coffee or tea. This helps to avoid an overexcited physiological state.
Some somewhat alternative therapies used to improve the lives of people with diabetophobia have been Mindfulness, meditation, yoga or sports activities.
Stress reduction therapies based on Midnfulness have been shown to be effective in treating associated problems. have been shown to be effective in treating problems associated with anxiety disorders, such as stress itself. Meditation has also been shown to be useful in decreasing physiological activation, along with yoga.
As for sports activities, they have been shown to be very useful for people with diabetophobia, especially Cardiovascular exercise. Aerobic exercise helps to release endorphins, which produce emotional well-being. However, one must be careful with sport, since one of the symptoms that the diabetophobic person may manifest is that of having an extremely active rhythm of life.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
- Alberti, G. (2001) A desktop guide to Type 2 diabetes mellitus. European Diabetis Policy Group, 16, 716-730.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)