Social Code of Diabetes  – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Nowshin Tabassum, a fourth year medical student currently studying in Sheikh Hasina Medical College, Jamalpur, Bangladesh. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Diabetic living is challenging when every day is unpredictable, and occasionally the frustration is so great that one may want to give up. Unfortunately, that is not an option for individuals with diabetes, in fact it’s a chronic condition that needs ongoing medical attention for the rest of one’s life. However, the burden of managing diabetes is extremely real and has a significant influence on one’s quality of life. Research shows that people with diabetes are at increased risk for diabetes distress, which refers to the negative emotional and psychosocial worries and burden individuals with the diagnosis of diabetes experience. Diabetes distress could manifest as depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, inappropriate stress responses, substance use disorders, and alcohol abuse. Social determinants such as income, education, housing, unsafe neighborhoods, food insecurity, lack of transportation, and lack of healthcare access drive differences in diet, activity, stress and preventive care regardless of race that lead to diabetes. Racial injustice has also produced persistent disadvantages in social determinants of health for racial and ethnic minority populations, creating racial/ethnic disparities in diabetes outcomes.

Diabetes management is a “24/7” task that necessitates constant decision-making and action-taking with frequently unexpected and undesirable results. Even following instructions to the letter won’t ensure stable blood sugar levels; doing the same thing every day can have completely different effects. The accumulation of these issues and annoyances could result in “diabetes burnout.”

However, diabetes sufferers often struggle with stigma. The stigma associated with diabetes is pervasive and prevents people from seeking care and managing their physical and mental health. It exists everywhere, including in the family, classroom, workplace, and healthcare environment. In addition, stigma and prejudice may result in worse self-care and diabetes management. People with diabetes are often made to feel entirely responsible for managing their glucose levels – despite the many factors that affect those levels that are outside of their control. Being a conscious part of society we can initiate our kind approaches and be a support system towards this overwhelming circumstance. Going hand in hand with the above statement, we need to try to be kind and look for the positive environment. As a diabetic patient you can:

  • Communicate with Friends or Family
  • Give Yourself a Break
  • Don’t Blame Yourself
  • Make time to do what you love
  • Take time to do things you enjoy
  • Talk to your health care providers about negative reactions other people may have about your diabetes
  • Talk to your health care providers about your feelings
  • Talk to other people with diabetes

By using more intentional and thoughtful language when addressing persons who are living with diabetes, we can read the stigma associated with the disease in our society.

We must avoid passing judgment on weight gain, dietary preferences, or diabetes diagnoses as family, friends, and coworkers of people with diabetes. Instead, be kind and encourage to those who are managing their diabetes in public. Remember that people with diabetes did not seek to have the condition, and that managing it can be challenging.

About the author

Nowshin Tabassum, a fourth year medical student currently studying in Sheikh Hasina Medical College, Jamalpur, Bangladesh. She is an active member of Bangladesh Medical Students’ Society, an NMO of IFMSA. She is a medical student advocate of health and rights. In addition to having a strong interest in medicine, she is a young visionary leader who wants to make a difference in society. Besides, she is also an active SRHR activist embracing all the positive sexualties and differences in the world.

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