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Navigating Guilt and Shame: Managing Diabetes with Compassion

by IBD Medical on July 25, 2023

Living with diabetes can be challenging in many ways. This article explores the emotional impacts of guilt and shame for individual's living with diabetes and how guilt and shame can negatively impact diabetes management.  

What is Guilt and Shame?

Guilt and shame are complex emotions that can arise when managing diabetes. Understanding the connection between guilt, shame, and diabetes is important in addressing emotional well-being. Guilt often arises from specific actions or behaviours related to diabetes management, when we feel bad for something we have done or something we have failed to do. Shame is the feeling not of 'doing' something bad, but 'being' bad. Shame can be experienced as feelings of worthlessness or strong internal self-criticism.


How are Guilt and Shame Related to Diabetes?

Guilt and shame can significantly impact individuals with diabetes, influencing their emotional well-being and self-perception. Guilt often arises from feeling responsible for poor diabetes management choices or perceived failures in adhering to treatment plans. It can lead to self-criticism, regret, and a sense of personal inadequacy. On the other hand, shame goes deeper, affecting one's self-worth and sense of identity. Individuals may experience shame related to diabetes stigma, feeling judged or ashamed of their condition. Both guilt and shame can hinder self-care, create psychological distress, and potentially impact blood sugar control. Addressing and resolving these emotions is crucial for fostering a positive mindset and affective diabetes management.


What are Some Examples of Guilt and Shame Associated with Diabetes Management?

Guilt and shame can manifest in various ways when it comes to managing diabetes. These emotions can significantly impact an individual's well-being and diabetes care. Here are some examples of the ways guilt and shame show up in diabetes management:

Examples of Guilt of Diabetes Management:

  1. Feeling guilty for not following the recommended diabetes management plan.
  2. Regretting food choices and feeling responsible for blood sugar fluctuations.
  3. Blaming oneself for not achieving desired blood sugar levels or experiencing diabetes-related complications.
  4. Guilt associated with the burden diabetes places on family and loved ones.
  5. Feeling inadequate or ashamed for needing diabetes-related support or accommodations.

Examples of Shame in Diabetes Management:

  1. Feeling embarrassed or ashamed of having diabetes, resulting in self-stigmatisation or negative self-talk.
  2. Avoiding diabetes-related discussions or hiding diabetes management tasks from others.
  3. Internalising negative societal stereotypes and experiencing a sense of inferiority.
  4. Shame regarding the use of medical devices like CGM patches or insulin pumps.
  5. Feeling ashamed or judged for consuming certain foods or carbohydrates.


How Does Guilt and Shame Impact Your Daily & Professional Life?

Guilt and shame related to diabetes can have significant impacts on daily and professional life. Here are some concise points highlighting their effects:

Daily Life:

  1. Guilt can lead to self-blame and regret, effecting emotional well-being and self-esteem.
  2. Shame may cause individuals to hide or avoid discussing their diabetes, impacting social interactions and increasing social isolation.
  3. Both guilt and shame can hinder diabetes management, leading to stress and decreased quality of life.

Professional Life:

  1. Guilt and shame may affect confidence and productivity at work.
  2. Fear of judgment or discrimination due to diabetes-related stigma can impact career advancement and opportunities.
  3. Hiding diabetes management tasks or difficulties can create added stress and strain in the professional setting.

It's important to address these emotions of guilt and shame in diabetes management, as they can negatively impact self-esteem, mental well-being, and overall diabetes care. Seeking support from healthcare professionals, diabetes educators, or mental health providers can help in navigating and overcoming these emotional challenges. 


The content of this Website or Blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website or Blog.
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