Book offers psychological techniques and tools to manage diabetes

10/22/2007 7:00:00 AM

For many people, a diagnosis of diabetes is physically and emotionally devastating.

Learning to live successfully with the disease requires patients to adopt lifestyle changes that are often unfamiliar and difficult to accept.

University of Nevada, Reno Professor Steven Hayes, founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), tackles education and self-management in his book, "Diabetes Lifestyle Book: Facing Your Fears and Making Changes for a Long and Healthy Life," on sale now.

"ACT has proven effective at helping individuals with type 2 diabetes make lasting lifestyle changes necessary for their continued good health," said Hayes, professor of psychology. "This book offers strategies that will help patients and their families enjoy quality of life irrespective of an unfortunate diagnosis."

Hayes' approach emphasizes self-management through nutrition, exercise, medication compliance, blood glucose tests and insulin administration. Some patients respond well to lifestyle change but many others sabotage their success by attempting to deny feelings of loss, fear or anger.

"It is important for patients to acknowledge negative feelings following diagnosis rather than suppressing those emotions," he said. "Individuals who use the proven techniques to better cope with difficult circumstances may be better prepared for long-term disease management."

Scholars and therapists have adopted Hayes' pioneering ACT methods, and it is a useful tool for therapists themselves. In this book, Hayes applies the psychological principles to patients with chronic, debilitating diseases such as diabetes or heart disease.

ACT is one of a family of therapies that bring constructive, spiritual, Eastern-oriented sensibility into Western science. Thus, while an individual may not reverse physical challenges, the mind can diminish the impact of the struggle and come to a place of peace.

The American Diabetes Association reports that nearly 21 million American adults and children suffer with diabetes, a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, the hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy.

"Unfortunately, the crisis of diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions, and patients need support to reclaim their lives," Hayes said. "ACT makes it possible for anyone to learn life-enhancing strategies and put into practice the new technologies that make a difference in just a day or two."

Hayes is also the author of "Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy," which caught fire with popular media. He was featured in Time magazine in February 2006 and in the July 2007 O, the Oprah magazine.


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