Depression and severe psychological distress are frequently comorbid with diabetes and are associated with reduced adherence to medication and healthy lifestyle regimens, poorer glycemic control, and increased complications.
The mixed success of existing treatments for depression in diabetes patients suggests a need for supplementary approaches to this common problem. This article reviews recent evidence for the benefits of self-compassion in chronically ill patients, suggesting its utility as a clinical tool for improving self-care, depression, and glycemic control in diabetes.
Possible physical and psychological pathways by which self-compassion may promote better outcomes in diabetes patients are considered, with particular attention given to reductions in negative self-judgment and improved motivation to undertake self-care.
Diabetes can be described as a tidal wave about to crash on health systems around the world, with global prevalence of the disease estimated at 9% among adults (1). Living with diabetes is challenging, demanding a relentless effort to achieve glycemic control through strict behavioral self-regulation and adherence to medical regimens. Making self-management more complex, serious psychological difficulties are frequently present among diabetes patients, accompanied by increased suffering and compromised quality of life (2).
Building on evidence linking positive aspects of psychological adjustment to improved coping in physically ill populations, this article describes how research into self-compassion may offer a supplementary framework for the improved management of diabetes, providing some protection against depression and its downstream effects.
Self-Compassion: Does Kindness Matter?
Self-compassion is defined as the practice of treating oneself with kindness, care, and concern in the face of negative events (13,14). F