Psychological effects of diabetes on children

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When most people think of diabetes, they think of an overweight adult who has caused the majority of their own issues. This is certainly true in some cases, but when it comes to children, they are far less to blame. Around 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1. Around 18,436 children in the United States suffer from type 1 diabetes and 5,089 have type 2 diabetes. The incidence rates of both are surging and increase nearly every year. Plenty of adults struggle when they are diagnosed with diabetes, but the effects these diagnoses have on children often go overlooked.

Side Effects

It’s hard to come to terms with the diagnosis of diabetes. For those who suffer with type 1, they will have to rely on injections of insulin for the rest of their lives to keep them stable and healthy. For a child, this can seriously disrupt their lives. They have to be put on a schedule from early in their lives. It may require stopping in the middle of playdates and birthday parties to receive an injection.

They’ll have to take those same shots with them everywhere they go. A simple field trip, a day at the park with friends or the average school day is interrupted with injections of insulin that often garners a lot of onlookers among youth. They want to know what’s wrong and why their friend has to get so many shots. This kind of intrigue can be hard for a child to answer to. This can easily overwhelm the affected child. Type 2 diabetes affects children in much the same ways. This disease is often brought on by poor dietary choices, which is frequently not even a decision that the child has any part in.


Children often pick up on the feelings of their parents and caregivers. If those people are anxious, a child can easily become anxious, too. Trying to explain anxiety to a child is difficult. Likewise, they often have a hard time describing what it is they’re experiencing when they are anxious, too. The sense of feeling overwhelmed or preoccupied with worry often extend beyond the normal vocabulary most children have. Thus, treating anxiety in children can be even more difficult.


Around 80,000 children suffer from severe depression, and 8,000 of them are under the age of 10. These children feel emotions so deeply that it impacts their ability to live their daily lives. They cannot cope with their emotions. They are often so young that they can’t even describe how it is they feel; they just know it isn’t good. Often, depression like this stems from an illness taking the forefront of a child’s life. A disease such as diabetes is fully capable of this.

Treating this kind of depression in children starts with behavioral therapy that can assist children in developing position coping skills for their emotions. It also gently urges them to accept their diagnosis and aims to paint their life with a color of positivity that allows them to see that their illness doesn’t have to take the front seat.

Cite this page: Danielle Bosley, "Psychological effects of diabetes on children," in, January 30, 2017, (accessed September 28, 2022).