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September 16, 1999


Question from Florida, USA:

I have a 12 year old son who has had diabetes for 2 1/2 years. His doctor recommended counseling for a possible learning disability and behavior problems. The diagnosis was depression caused by hypoglycemia and the only recourse would a lifetime of taking Prozac. Any suggestions?


Find another therapist. It is possible that your son is depressed, as depression is more common in people with diabetes than in the general population. However, hypoglycemia does not necessarily cause depression. In addition, there are multiple treatment options for depression, and no one can predict a life-time need for medications in someone that’s only twelve.

Moreover, children with diabetes are at an increased risk for learning disabilities, especially if they have a history of low blood sugars. If, indeed, your son does have an LD, he might be feeling frustrated and sad because of his struggles academically, not because of the daily demands of the diabetes regimen.

In looking for another therapist, it will be very important that you find someone who knows a lot about type 1 diabetes. Many pediatric diabetes teams at major medical centers have excellent psychologists on staff who can be very helpful to your family. I strongly recommend you make at least a consultative appointment with one of them (even if you have to drive an hour or two). They can probably then refer you to someone more suited to your family’s needs closer to where you live.