Therapy for Type 1 Diabetes

Learn to cope with the challenges of this illness.

Our bodies and minds are linked.

Many people underestimate the mental health challenge that accompanies a physical health diagnosis like Type 1 Diabetes. When our bodies aren’t doing well, it impacts us emotionally. Therapy can help you to deal with the challenges of living with Type 1 Diabetes.

Having lived alongside Type 1 since my son’s diagnosis at age 7, I am passionate about helping people living with Type 1 Diabetes thrive.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

There are two types of diabetes. The more common one, and the one that most people know about, is Type 2 Diabetes, which is generally caused by lifestyle choices, including diet.

Type 1 Diabetes also affects a large percentage of the population and is most commonly diagnosed in children and young adults, which is why some refer to it as Juvenile Onset Diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes isn’t caused by your lifestyle.

It is an autoimmune disease in which your body begins to attack the cells in the pancreas. As a result, your body becomes incapable of producing insulin and people living with Type 1 Diabetes have to administer insulin using an injection, insulin pen or a pump.

Dealing with a Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

When my son was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes our family experienced a wide range of emotions. A diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes had a huge impact – not only on the person diagnosed but also on immediate family – parents, siblings, grandparents…

It can affect the mental health and wellbeing of both patient and caregivers and getting support to deal with these emotions is necessary to ensure a balanced, long and healthy life with diabetes.

Why is Living With Diabetes So Hard?

Diabetes is a self-managed condition, which indicates a huge sense of responsibility on the person living with Type 1 Diabetes – and their parents, if the patient is a child and even if they are a teen.

This type of responsibility is not one that anyone chooses to carry and the burden can get heavy.

Diabetes involves making frequent, sometimes life or death decisions under sometimes stressful and physically uncomfortable circumstances and it is only natural that mental health will suffer.

Therapy can help!

Combining my personal and professional experiences we can work together to ease the burden on your family and make life with Type 1 Diabetes a little easier.

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Diabetes-Related Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common issues that people develop after a diabetes diagnosis. After all, getting diagnosed with a condition that you or your child are going to have to deal with for the rest of your life is scary. It’s normal to have a lot of questions that may develop into worries.

In some cases, normal post-diagnosis worries develop into full-blown anxiety.

You may find that you have trouble sleeping because you can’t stop thinking about this illness. Perhaps you get obsessed with researching diabetes, to the point that it’s all that you think or talk about.

It is understandable that you might be worried about this newly-diagnosed condition, but you don’t have to live with this anxiety. Therapy can help you manage your anxiety symptoms while also addressing the underlying concerns that you have about diabetes.

Diabetes-Related Depression

Anxiety and depression are the two most common mental health issues affecting people today. It’s not surprising that they are both equally likely to show up in families who have just received a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis.

People go through many challenges when adjusting to any disease diagnosis, particularly one that is chronic and persistent.

It’s common to feel sad for a little while. However, in some people, this can become depression.

After the diagnosis, you may find yourself completely disinterested in life. You don’t enjoy the things that you used to. You may not even want to get out of bed.

It’s not uncommon to have the thought, “there is no point in doing anything now that I (or my child) have diabetes.”

These depression symptoms are complicated by the harsh reality that you’re dealing with a physical disease. Therapy can help you work through the depression and address the underlying disease-related conditions that may have led to it.

Eating Disorders With Type 1 Diabetes

There is an inextricable link between diabetes and food. Diabetes is a condition of the body that relates directly to insulin levels, which are greatly impacted by food consumption. As a result, someone with Type 1 Diabetes is going to be thinking regularly about food, and exercise and their weight – for the rest of their life.

I see eating disorders emerge mostly in teenagers where societal pressures are at their height.

It’s very challenging to work through an eating disorder when you have an illness that requires you to pay strict attention to your food intake and a life-saving drug that can cause you to gain weight.

Although it may be challenging, it is not impossible. Therapy can help adjust to life with Type 1 Diabetes while working through the eating disorder challenges it’s brought about.

Even if your diabetes doesn’t cause a mental health condition such as depression, it can still present very challenging thoughts and feelings that is helpful to work through in therapy.

Even if your diabetes doesn’t cause a mental health condition such as depression, it can still present very challenging thoughts and feelings that it’s helpful to work through in therapy.

Parental Stress When a Child is Diagnosed with Diabetes

A diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes does not just affect the individual with the diagnosis. It impacts the whole family. If you are a parent whose child or teen has recently been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes you may be facing stressors and emotional challenges.

Therapy can help you and your family work through them.

Mental Health Therapy for Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes brings up so many different issues and challenges.  Kids, teens and caregivers are at greater risk of developing anxiety, depression, and some develop eating disorders. Normal feelings include shame, blame, guilt, worry, stress, frustration and anger.

Therapy can help you through all stages, from diagnosis to treatment changes to family disruption caused by issues related to the illness.

Even if the reasons that you wish to see a therapist aren’t directly related to diabetes, it can be immensely helpful to work with a therapist who understands the broad impact that this condition has upon your life. I do. I’ve been there.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes only requires the help of a GP or an endocrinologist. You will benefit greatly from the help of a therapist as well.