Diabetes Risk Awareness: Focusing on LGBTQ+ Health during Pride Month

Pride Month is a perfect time to not only celebrate the strides made by the LGBTQ+ community but also to highlight health challenges, like the increased risk of type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC, while about 10% of the general population has diabetes, this number jumps to 25% among gay or bisexual men and 14% among lesbian or bisexual women. Understanding why this happens is crucial to improving health outcomes.

Factors Contributing to Higher Diabetes Risk:

  1. Overweight and Obesity

Being overweight or obese are major risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Research shows that lesbian and bisexual women and transgender men are more likely to be overweight or obese. Chronic stress and disrupted sleep patterns play a significant role here.

  • Chronic Stress: Due to discrimination and social exclusion, LGBTQ+ individuals often face chronic stress, which increases cortisol levels. This hormone can boost appetite and cause fat to store around the belly, raising diabetes risk.
  • Sleep Patterns: Stress and mental health issues can disrupt sleep, making it harder to manage weight and blood sugar levels.

Small lifestyle changes like regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management techniques can make a big difference. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for support tailored to your needs.

  1. Increased Rates of Chronic Health Conditions

The LGBTQ+ community often faces higher rates of chronic conditions that increase diabetes risk.

High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease: 

These conditions, more common among gay and bisexual men, impair blood vessel function and trigger insulin resistance, raising diabetes risk.

  • Smoking: LGBTQ+ adults, particularly lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals, have higher smoking rates, partly due to targeted marketing and as a coping mechanism. Quitting smoking significantly reduces diabetes risk.
  • HIV and HIV Medications: Higher rates of HIV among gay and bisexual men and transgender women means that certain HIV treatments, which can increase insulin resistance, are more common in these groups.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): More common in lesbian and bisexual women, PCOS is linked to weight gain and insulin resistance.

Regular health screenings and open communication with your healthcare provider can help detect and manage these risks.

  1. Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy is essential for many transgender people but can lead to weight gain, higher cholesterol, and changes in fat distribution, increasing diabetes risk. Regular monitoring of weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels with your healthcare provider can help manage these risks.

Taking Action: A Holistic Approach

Understanding and addressing these unique challenges is key to improving health outcomes for the LGBTQ+ community. During Pride Month, consider these steps:

  • Education and Support: Raising awareness about diabetes risks specific to LGBTQ+ individuals is crucial. Educational campaigns and resources can help spread this knowledge.
  • Accessible Healthcare: Ensure access to culturally competent healthcare providers who understand LGBTQ+ needs. Regular screenings for diabetes and other chronic conditions are vital.
  • Healthy Lifestyle Programs: Community programs focused on healthy eating, physical activity, and stress management can significantly reduce risks. Support systems for smoking cessation and counseling are also important.

Addressing the higher diabetes risk for the LGBTQ+ community requires targeted interventions and support systems. By promoting inclusive healthcare and understanding unique challenges, we can reduce this risk and improve overall health. This Pride Month, let’s celebrate the resilience of the LGBTQ+ community and commit to providing the support needed for everyone to lead a healthy, fulfilling life.

If you are interested in taking your first step towards weight loss, healthier eating, increased physical activity and are a resident in Southern Maryland, we encourage you to click here to learn more about the National DPP and preregister today. Your journey toward improved health and well-being begins with TLC-MD.

If you are a community-based organization and want to know more about our work contact us.

Building Self-Awareness Between Good and Bad Stress

If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is available.  Call or text 988 for someone to talk to, request mobile response for someone to come to you, or chat at 988lifeline.org.

Are you aware of the signs of stress in your body? Your breaths get shorter, your back muscles get tense, and your appetite changes. 

Stress is inevitable. However, it’s important to recognize the signs and have the self-awareness to differentiate between the good stress and the bad. That way, you can keep yourself in check and avoid getting overwhelmed.

Recognizing Good and Bad Stress

Good Stress (Eustress): 

Good stress, also known as eustress, can push you to do better or take on tough situations. It’s the type of stress that motivates and energizes you. It’s the feeling you get before a big presentation, a job interview, or a performance. Eustress can help you focus, perform better, and be more productive. 

Bad Stress (Distress): 

Bad stress, or distress, is the chronic or excessive stress that overwhelms you and interferes with your daily functioning. It can pop up when you have ongoing issues like work pressures, relationship problems, financial worries, or major life changes.

It can lead to anxiety, depression, burnout, and many physical health problems if you don’t deal with it. In some cases, it can lead to substance use and suicidal thoughts.

Signs and Symptoms of Bad Stress

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of bad stress is the first step towards managing it effectively. Here are some of the most common signs:

  • Physical Symptoms: Headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, digestive issues, changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
  • Emotional Symptoms: Anxiety, irritability, mood swings, feelings of overwhelm, sadness, or depression.
  • Behavioral Symptoms: Withdrawal from social activities, increased use of alcohol or drugs, difficulty concentrating, changes in performance at work or school.

Understanding How Technology Affects Stress

While technology makes your life easier and keeps you connected, it can also stress you out. That’s why it’s important to use it mindfully and set limits on how much you use it. Here are some simple tips:

  • Limit Screen Time: Decide on specific times when you’ll use technology and try to spend more time doing things that help you relax or talking face-to-face with people.
  • Turn off Notifications: Stop unnecessary notifications on your phone or computer so you can focus better without interruptions.
  • Create Tech-Free Areas: Choose places in your home or times of day when you won’t use technology at all. It’s a chance to take a break and recharge.
  • Take Breaks from Social Media and News: Give yourself a break from social media and the news. Too much information can make you feel more stressed. It might be hard at first, but it’s worth it.
  • Don’t Compare Yourself Online: Remember, what you see on social media isn’t always real life. Focus on your progress instead of comparing yourself to others.

Getting Help in Maryland

TLC-MD is a key advocate for mental health organizations in Maryland. There are several resources available if you need help managing stress or have other mental health concerns:

Crisis Helplines & Locations:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call or text 988 and ask for the Mobile Response Team (MRT) or chat at 988lifeline.org. This national hotline connects individuals with crisis counselors who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and mental health emergencies.
  • Maryland Crisis Hotline: Dial 211 and press 1 for information, referral, and crisis intervention. This statewide helpline provides access to trained crisis counselors 24/7. They can assist with crisis intervention, provide information on local resources, and offer emotional support. 
  • Dyer Care Center: This is a 23-hour outpatient facility in Prince George’s County that provides emergency crisis stabilization for mental health, behavioral health, and substance use. The center will be opening on April 25th, 2024. To learn more, visit tlc-md.org or contact us at (888) 900–1257.

Reach Out to Local Organizations

Maryland has several organizations that focus on mental health and/or substance use support. Here are a few:

  • NAMI Maryland (National Alliance on Mental Illness): NAMI Maryland offers resources, support groups, and education programs for individuals and families. They have local chapters throughout the state.
  • Maryland Behavioral Health Administration (BHA): BHA oversees behavioral health services in Maryland and can connect you with resources, treatment options, and crisis support services.
  • SAMHSA’s Treatment Locator: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a treatment locator tool that can help you find nearby mental health and/or substance use treatment facilities.

If you are a resident in Southern Maryland in need of mental health and/or substance use services, contact the following local government organizations:

If you have any questions or need additional help to find resources in your area, contact info@tlc-md.org.

Discover how to manage your stress

Discover how to manage your stress

Woman yoga

Stress management is an important part of self-care for diabetes. Excessive stress can harm your blood sugar & affect your health-related decision-making.

  • This guide shares techniques to find calm.
  • Identify your stressors and warning signs
  • Avoid or limit stressful situations
  • Make time for yourself through exercise, hobbies, and relaxation
  • Build your support network of family, friends, groups
  • Seek counseling if needed

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