If your teenager has just been diagnosed with diabetes, it takes the medical team, family members, and even professional counselors to help them cope. At this important stage of their life, they are already struggling with independence, breaking away from parents, hormonal changes, and emerging sexuality. A diagnosis of diabetes can tear away the fragile self-esteem a teen may have. It can make the world even more confusing, and without enough support, it could result in depression. The support your teen receives at this critical time of their life will have a huge impact on how your teen adjusts to the diagnosis.
The fears and feelings that come with the diagnosis of diabetes will affect the teens but also the parents. They may be learning new methods, start healthier diets, and learn to control the disease. Parents and teens both may not be allowed to voice their concerns, their anger, and even grief. They may be so pushed to learn control methods, how to give injections, warning signs to look for, and the complications that could occur, they may not have time to grieve for the life they would have lived. It’s ok for teens and parents to ask, “Why me? Did I do something that caused the disease in my child? Did I eat too many sweet foods?” If these questions are not addressed and answered, it may make it difficult for both parents and teens to cope with their diagnosis. Teens may look to their parents for answers, and parents may be so overwhelmed they have a difficult time answering the questions teens have.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation sponsors and on-line support team made up of both adults and other teens that have diabetes. A person-to-person team will help support teens and parents while facing the challenges of learning to control blood sugar levels. There may be local groups that you can join to get personal support locally.
More than anything else, teenagers need to be given hope and hear messages of optimism. They are struggling with their own identity, fitting in with their peer group, and struggling to show their independence. Now more than ever, they need the love and support of those who have already experienced what is happening to them. Positive examples should be put in front of them; they need optimism at this point. They need to believe that they can still have a healthy and fulfilled life or they may slip into depression. If that happens, it will make it even more difficult to cope with controlling their blood sugar levels.
If your teen starts sinking into despair, you need to stay positive. There are new techniques being developed every year and the cure for diabetes could be just around the corner. Talk to them about the many famous and successful people that have lived their dream even with having the disease and complications of diabetes. Our teens are at the point in their life where they are looking for the future, if they need help with emotional issues, please contact a trained specialist to help them and you cope with this disease.