My Doctor Diagnosed Me with Diabetes. Now What?

If you have been recently diagnosed with diabetes by your health care provider, you may have questions about how to best manage the disease and how it will impact your future. It is normal to feel sad, concerned, and overwhelmed. And while it may be difficult following a diabetes diagnosis, there are tips and resources available to help you take charge of your health and continue living your life normally.

Being diagnosed with diabetes is a difficult time for most people and figuring out what you need to do to manage your diabetes and still live your life can be daunting. Here are some tips and resources to get you started so you can take charge of your health and continue living your life normally.

Get educated

Learning more about diabetes and management tools will help empower you to make the best choices for yourself. Although type 1 and type 2 diabetes are usually treated differently at diagnosis, both include balancing food, exercise, managing stress, monitoring blood sugar levels, and taking medication(s) and/or insulin. Each person is different, so each individual will work with their practitioner to develop a personalized treatment plan to fit their lifestyle, type of diabetes, age, and other health conditions.

Your primary care provider (PCP) may start you on a treatment plan initially and provide you with educational resources about the condition, but then may refer you to an endocrinologist and a diabetes education program.

An endocrinologist is a healthcare provider who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of issues with the endocrine glands. Endocrine glands secrete hormones such as insulin (the hormone that is affected when you have diabetes). Most people with type 1 diabetes are typically referred to an endocrinologist at diagnosis, whereas often people with type 2 are initially managed by their primary care health provider before being referred out to one.

When you go for your initial appointment, the endocrinologist will:

  • Confirm your diagnosis and classify it as type 1 or type 2.
  • Provide a full medical exam including, evaluation for diabetes complications and other common conditions that occur with diabetes (e.g., high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.).
  • Review any previous treatment(s) and other health conditions you may have.
  • Develop a treatment plan with you to manage your diabetes (one to fit your lifestyle, preferences, etc.).
  • Refer you to other healthcare providers if needed such as diabetes educators, dieticians, eye doctors, etc.

Knowing about your condition and how to manage it is an important step to a happy, healthy life. Topics to learn more about (and are covered in diabetes education classes or 1:1 with a diabetes educator) include:

  • What is diabetes?
  • What is an HbA1c (also known as A1c)?
  • How do I manage my diabetes (medications/insulin)?
  • Why do I have to check my blood sugar?
  • How does food affect my blood sugar?
  • What is healthy eating in diabetes?
  • Why is exercise important?
  • Why would stress affect my diabetes?
  • Why would going to a therapist be important to my diabetes if I am feeling down, anxious, or having difficulty managing my condition?

Get support

Allow yourself to be upset, sad, worried, and frustrated – this is all normal. Most people experience a mix of these feelings when they are diagnosed and often throughout the course of their disease. Everyone can benefit from support from time to time when life is overwhelming - and being diagnosed with diabetes is no exception.

Friends and Family Support

Friends and family can play a key role in supporting you when you want to vent, feel sad, or worried. Many people find it helpful when family and friends eat healthier with them, partner with them to exercise, or even go to the doctor with them for a second set of ears. Reach out to your loved ones when you need support – most people want to help but don’t know how.

Peer Support

Getting involved with groups of people who also have diabetes can be helpful. You can learn about how other people dealt with issues that came up or what treatment they liked or didn’t like or even life hacks for living with diabetes. Other people with diabetes know what you are going through, so when you say you are feeling sad, angry, or frustrated about something they understand and can be supportive in a way your friends and family without diabetes can’t. You could ask your healthcare provider and/or local hospital if they have a list of diabetes support groups in your area.

Online communities can also be very helpful. They provide information and a community of people who have been through the trenches. You can read what others are saying, get treatment tips, and ask questions along with receiving support from peers with diabetes.

Professional Support

People diagnosed with diabetes may have a difficult time feeling sad, worried, and overwhelmed. These emotions are all normal, but if they last a long time and start interrupting your life (e.g., you don’t want to hang out with friends like you once did, you are sleeping a lot or not at all, or have changes in your eating habits like eating too much or not enough), you should tell your healthcare provider about it. Getting diagnosed with diabetes and living with a chronic condition is difficult, but there is professional support available to help get back on track and help you through.

Remember, the more you learn about best managing diabetes, the quicker you will be able to figure out what works best for you. Knowledge about the condition and good support can help empower you to take charge of your health, so you can have a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Useful resources

To find a Diabetes Education Program near you go to:

To find online support communities go to:

To find a Mental Health Provider that specializes in diabetes near you go to:

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