24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
Fax: (361)578-5500

Basic InformationLatest News
Certain Diabetes Meds May Lower Gout Risk, TooBig Advances Made Against Diabetes in 2019CDC Study Breaks Down Diabetes Risk for Hispanic, Asian SubgroupsFDA Authorizes Marketing of Automated Insulin Dosing ControllerDo Processed Foods Up Your Type 2 Diabetes Risk?Changing Timing, Frequency of Meals May Help With Diabetes'Diabetes Burnout' Is Real, Here's How to CopeAs Diabetes Costs Soar, Many Turn to Black Market for HelpFDA Testing Levels of Carcinogen in Diabetes Drug MetforminMom-to-Be's Diabetes May Up Odds of Heart Disease in Her KidsPrediabetes Now Common Among Teens, Young AdultsHeart Attack at 44 Helped Her Realize Diabetes' DangersDiabetes Tougher on Women's HeartsDiabetes Technology Often Priced Out of ReachSupplements Don't Prevent Kidney Disease in Type 2 DiabeticsWhy Are Insulin Prices Still So High for U.S. Patients?Health Tip: Snacks for People With DiabetesHigh-Tech Pacifier Might Monitor Baby's Blood SugarThe Exercise Effect and PrediabetesNext-Gen Artificial Pancreas Boosts Blood Sugar ControlHurricanes Raise Death Risk for Older Diabetics, Even Years LaterYou've Lost the Weight -- Now Keep It Off to Keep Diabetes at BayCould a Pill Replace Insulin Shots?High-Fiber Diet Tied to Lower Heart Risk in Diabetes PatientsJust a Little Weight Loss Can Put Diabetes Into RemissionAffordable Care Act Insured Millions of Uninsured DiabeticsOlder Diabetics May Be Getting Too Much InsulinIt Takes Less Weight to Trigger Diabetes in Minorities Than WhitesFDA OKs New Pill for Type 2 DiabetesAHA News: These Diets Helped Women With Diabetes Cut Heart Attack, Stroke RiskKeeping Blood Sugar Steady Helps You Live Longer With DiabetesAre Shorter Folks at Higher Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?Diabetes Control Has Stalled Across U.S.Fish Oil Not a Magic Pill Against DiabetesAsian Study Finds Diabetes, Heart Failure a Dangerous DuoCaring Doctors Can Be Life-Changing for Diabetic PatientsKeto Diet May Help Control Type 2 DiabetesHealth Tip: Living With HypoglycemiaHealth Tip: Understanding PrediabetesFDA Approves First Needle-Free 'Rescue' Drug for Low Blood Sugar EpisodesDiabetes Raises Heart Failure Risk More in Women Than MenCan You Live Well With Type 1 Diabetes for 81 Years? Just Ask Don RayEasing Depression Can Bring Longer Life to People With DiabetesMedtronic Recalls Some Insulin Pumps as FDA Warns They Could Be HackedFDA Approves Victoza Injection for Children 10 Years and OlderCommon Infant Vaccine May Also Shield Kids From Type 1 DiabetesType 1 Diabetes Might Affect Young Kids' Brain DevelopmentDrug May Help Delay Onset of Type 1 DiabetesVitamin D Supplements Don't Prevent Type 2 Diabetes: StudyWhat and How You Eat Affects Your Odds for Type 2 Diabetes
Related Topics

Medical Disorders

Open Communication Helps Teens Manage Type 1 Diabetes

HealthDay News
by By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: May 24th 2019

new article illustration

THURSDAY, May 23, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- It's a simple concept, but new research reinforces the idea: Teens with type 1 diabetes benefit when they feel their concerns have been heard.

Teens with type 1 diabetes may experience anger, frustration and anxiety if they haven't met their treatment goals. Their parents and health care providers may also feel frustrated and may blame the teen. But the new study suggests that interventions designed to improve diabetes-related care and communication could improve a teen's diabetes self-management.

"The biggest thing people don't understand about living with type 1 diabetes is that patients become physicians essentially, and doctors and staff become consultants," said the study's lead author, Dr. Harold Starkman. He's the director of pediatric endocrinology at the BD Diabetes Center at Atlantic Health System's Goryeb Children's Hospital in Morristown, N.J.

"Families and teens who have type 1 diabetes have the responsibility of caring for diabetes all the time. They have to figure out how much insulin they need, what to eat, count the carbohydrates in the food, consider the impact of diabetes," he explained.

Most teens are trying to do the best they can, but it's a lot of responsibility, he said. And, it's frustrating to ask for help when you're a teenager.

"Normally, teens need to separate from their parents and move on, but for teens with type 1 diabetes, diabetes is a tether," Starkman said.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to mistakenly attack healthy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that helps usher the sugar from foods into the body's cells to be used as fuel. This attack leaves people with type 1 diabetes with little to no insulin.

To survive, they must take insulin injections or receive insulin from an insulin pump multiple times a day, every day for the rest of their lives. They also must monitor their blood sugar levels to ensure they haven't given themselves too much or too little insulin, either of which can be dangerous.

Dr. Mary Pat Gallagher, director of the pediatric diabetes center at NYU Langone Health in New York City, agreed that diabetes can be tough for teens as they're trying to develop their independence.

"Diabetes raises the stakes on the usual adolescent journey," Gallagher said.

"Type 1 diabetes requires constant vigilance, and that's challenging for teens who have many other developmental tasks. Just as other adolescents do, teens with type 1 diabetes are trying to become separate from their families. They're also trying to identify with their peers and fit in with their peer group, and diabetes can make them feel different from their peer group," she explained.

At the same time, Gallagher said, parents may worry more because if their child doesn't do what they need to do, they could be putting their health in danger.

Teens may react to the pressure by trying to ignore their diabetes care by skipping insulin doses, or not checking their blood sugar levels.

Starkman said that "kids rebel by pretending they don't have diabetes." And that can backfire because it may leave teens feeling guilty and scared, he said.

For the study, the researchers interviewed nine teens with poorly controlled type 1 diabetes about their diabetes care. They also spoke with the teens' parents and their health care providers.

The researchers found similar themes of anger, frustration, guilt and anxiety among teens, parents and providers.

The key to breaking these cycles is open communication, Starkman said. For example, a mother might become angry with a teen who didn't test his blood sugar. The teen just sees the anger, and might not realize she's angry because she's scared.

On the flip side, the teen may have missed his last blood sugar check, but maybe it was his fourth or fifth one of the day, and he'd also had to give himself two shots of insulin. And now he's frustrated and mad that mom didn't see everything he did remember to do.

"We have to work on getting away from being angry or being judgmental. Rather than telling kids what to do, ask questions: 'It must be really difficult to do all of this. How can I help?' Or, if the teen has an issue -- maybe they're going to prom and don't know what to do with their insulin pump. Say, 'How can we solve this problem together? Maybe you could do shots during prom weekend? Or, wear your pump somewhere people won't see it?'" Starkman said.

He added that it's very difficult to have optimal diabetes management unless you have good communication.

For parents and providers, Gallagher recommended not focusing on diabetes right away. With her own patients, she said she asks them what's going on in their lives so she develops a relationship with them.

Gallagher said it's important to remain available to teens and to check-in frequently. But she added that you can let them lead the way. "Try to ask how you can be helpful to them. Do they need any supplies? Do they want you to help look at their blood glucose patterns?" she suggested.

The researchers also recommended acknowledging a teen's efforts, and trying to focus less on just the blood sugar control numbers.

Starkman said it's extra important to keep teens engaged because they'll soon be transitioning to adult diabetes, and the researchers noted that nearly one-third don't seek care as adults until they have complications.

Findings from the study were published in the American Psychological Association's Families, Systems, & Health journal.

More information

Read more about how type 1 diabetes can impact mental health at BeyondType1.org.