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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Family counselling offered to those with diabetes to help beat depression 

Dubai Diabetes Centre says 20 per cent of those living with the condition could have some kind of mental health issue. 

Counselling is being offered to families at Dubai’s only purpose-built diabetes centre to help patients manage their mental health.

Dubai Diabetes Centre is offering the service as about 20 per cent of people with the condition are thought to suffer from depression.

The figures suggest thousands of diabetes patients could be suffering in silence, as the UAE has some of the highest rates of the condition in the region.

According to 2015 International Diabetes Federation figures, there are more than one million people living with diabetes, ranking the UAE 13th for comparable prevalence.

“People with diabetes are recognised as having an increased risk of depression,” said Dubai Health Authority consultant endocrinologist Mohammed Belal Al Shamma.

“It is estimated that 20 per cent of diabetics have depression, which can also make diabetes management a more difficult task.

“The move to provide individuals, couples and family counselling in the same centre helps ensure compliance to treatment, and improves patient outcomes.”

The centre opened in 2007, and provides international levels of care from specialists including nurse educators, dieticians, podiatrists, exercise therapists and retinal camera technicians.

The centre also has a paediatric endocrine clinic with a nurse educator and dietician specifically for children.

According to the World Health Organisation, the global prevalence of diabetes has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7 per cent to 8.5 per cent in the adult population.

As well as one in five UAE residents thought to have diabetes, it is estimated that could rise as another one in five are pre-diabetic.

The addition of individual counselling services at the centre will help both patients and their family members better cope with the diagnosis and ensure their emotional wellbeing.

“Diabetes can be overwhelming at times, and this is particularly the case for many paediatric patients and their families,” said Alaa Abu Ali, a social counsellor at the centre.

“Often parents and children with diabetes are overwhelmed because they have so many factors to consider.

“They need to consider school schedules, other activities, food and the effect of these factors on glucose levels.

“Children also worry about making friends, fitting in and worry about how they will play sports and do other activities without letting diabetes get in the way of their day-to-day life.

“Counselling helps patients cope with their emotions and anxieties so that they stay on track with their health and comply with the treatment plans that are chalked out for them.”

Children with diabetes are prone to developing dysfunctional eating patterns, so the centre’s dietetic and counselling department closely coordinate and work together in such cases.

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