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April 15, 2006

Behavior, Mental Health

Question from Douglas, Georgia, USA:

My 10 year old daughter is on a insulin pump. She also has epilepsy and takes medication for that. Is it normal for children to get depressed about their situation? She tells me that it is unfair and that she should be able to eat what she wants. I have explained this to her and it is like talking to a brick. She sneaks food, any food she wants. Then, she does not want to give herself the insulin coverage. She tells me that she cannot go anywhere or do anything because of her diabetes. What should I do?

Answer:

It is certainly common for children to have moments when they are frustrated and sad about life with a chronic illness. However, the concerns you raise for your daughter, including her refusal to bolus after meals or snacks can be dangerous. Therefore, I recommend that you and your daughter seek counseling to learn strategies for managing her frustrations and sadness about chronic illness management so that the two of you are working together instead of against each other. Please ask your diabetes team and/or your pediatrician for referrals to psychologists or other mental health professionals that specialize in working with children with chronic illness.

JWB