Is it common for kids to feel depressed about their diabetes?

Studies have shown that adolescents with diabetes have lower "quality of life" scores and are more prone to depression than teenagers who don't have diabetes. Eating disorders, especially among girls, are common. One type of eating disorder among teens with diabetes involves skipping insulin. This allows a person to eat and not gain weight. If you start to suspect that your child is depressed or developing any sort of coping problem, eating disorder or behavioral problem, seek the help of a professional counselor immediately.

As you can imagine, the prospect of living the rest of your life with a disease that requires constant attention can be overwhelming. One recent study, however, suggests that a brief period of training in "coping skills" can improve both an adolescent's quality of life score and his or her diabetes control.

Such training involves unlearning bad coping skills (such as eating too much or denying the problem) that everyone uses to deal with stressful circumstances. The adolescent then learns new skills that give him or her healthier, more productive ways to react to stress. These skills were taught by trained professionals in 4 to 8 90-minute sessions over one month.

Adolescents who received the coping skills training showed improvement in scores that measured their confidence in managing diabetes, tendency to depression and overall quality of life. Teenagers who received training in coping skills also had lower blood glucose levels than those who did not. Ask your son or daughter's diabetes care provider how your child can receive coping skills training.

Dr. Diana K. Blythe, MD

Learning to be happy in spite of a chronic disease can be difficult for adults which means for children, and especially teens, it is even harder. They do not have the same coping skills and many have not learned how to deal with stress. The good news about diabetes is that many endocrinologists have diabetes educators who can help with both coping and diabetes education. Getting your child involved with the diabetes educator can help both their outlook and their blood sugars.

In addition, there are different ways of coordinating the insulin. If your child feels too constricted, talk to your endocrinologist. There may be a different insulin regimen that would still be safe.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.