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Diabetes Burnout Real, Serious Condition for Those Battling Disease

Disregard of medical appointments, change in lifestyle may signal burnout

Sun HSMASON, Ohio (October 13, 2016) – The day-to-day battle of a chronic illness such as diabetes can take a toll on the person trying to stay physically healthy and emotionally strong.

Diabetes can be a hard diagnosis to swallow. It means a lifelong regime of medications and daily glucose readings. It requires regular doctor’s appointments and a total overhaul of a person’s lifestyle habits – eating healthier and getting regular exercise.

“All of this can be overwhelming to a person. It can lead to negativity, whether that is resentment toward the disease itself or anger and frustration with having to make major changes to a person’s life,” says Kristine Sun, MD, of Premier Family Care of Mason. “Over time, they become unmotivated, and there’s a general sense of giving up about wanting to care for themselves.”

Dr. Sun says there are three signs that a person may be experiencing diabetes burnout. The first is a negative change to a person’s lifestyle. Burnout may be occurring if a person who previously was watching their carbohydrate intake is now indulging in sweets more than normal. Weight gain and a reduction or complete halt in exercise may also be a sign.

Burnout may be occurring if a person is not monitoring their glucose regularly. How well a person is managing their medication may also be a good indicator. Friends or loved ones may see medication bottles full or notice the refill date on bottles has expired. Lastly, failure to follow up on doctor’s appointments or continued canceling of preventive checks should raise a red flag.

“Patients can be hospitalized with diabetes-related complications and that’s why it’s all the more important for friends and family members to pick up on these warning signs early on so that their loved one can get the help they need,” says Dr. Sun, who practices with Premier HealthNet.

Dr. Sun recommends the following steps to help reduce the risk of experiencing diabetes burnout:

Give grace – Allow yourself to feel resentment, fear, stress, frustration and sadness. All of these emotions are a normal part of living with diabetes. 

Set realistic goals – Set goals that are measurable, specific and, most importantly, obtainable. An A1C level of 10, for instance, will not drop to 7 overnight. A goal of exercising an hour a day will only lead to frustration if that level of activity has never been a part of your life.

Create a support system – Identify people in your life who can help keep you accountable and be willing to gently keep you on track when you become discouraged. This would include loved ones and friends who are around often enough to be able to identify the small changes that eventually lead to burnout.

Create small steps – Make healthy changes one at a time. Monday walk for 10 minutes. Tuesday eat a healthier lunch. Wednesday go to bed at a decent hour. Thursday make sure you are taking your medication on time. Choose a support person to check in on your progress.

“We’re all susceptible to burnout in our lives,” Dr. Sun says. “Treat setbacks with diabetes no differently than you would a bad day at work. You don’t come home from a bad day and say you’re not going back in ever again. You get up and do it again and hope for a better day. Allow yourself to make mistakes, but realize that the next day is a new opportunity.”

For more information on diabetes burnout or to find a Premier HealthNet provider near you, visit

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