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October 20, 2004

Behavior, Mental Health

Question from Lacey, Washington, USA:

My 11 year old daughter was just diagnosed with type 1 in February of this year. Unfortunately, she witnessed someone having a seizure at her first camp this summer. Ever since then, we've tried to comfort her and help her to understand that this is something that can happen. She has been totally panicked about her blood glucose levels ever since then. If she checks her sugar and is under 200 mg/dl [11.1 mmol/L], she starts to panic, thinking that she is "dropping" and begins to check her blood glucose levels every ten minutes, if not more often. I don't know what to do or say to her to convince her to calm down about this. She is convinced that she will have a seizure. I try to tell her also, that yes, she may very well have one, but that we all know what to do if that happens and then it will get better. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer:

Watching someone have a seizure is among the most terrifying aspects of diabetes. It is not at all surprising that your daughter is afraid of this happening to her. You are doing a great job of assuring her that she will be okay. It may be helpful for the members of her diabetes team to talk with her about lows, too. Getting “facts” from her medical care team may calm some of her fears. If, after talking with her team, she still seems to “panic” when her numbers are under 200 mg/dl [11.1 mmol/L], I’d encourage you to work with a mental health professional who can teach your daughter strategies for her to use to help her calm down and relax so she can make effective decisions instead of allowing her emotions to control what she does. Your diabetes team or pediatrician should be able to recommend such a professional.

JWB