Psychological Side of T1D

An important tool for Type 1 Diabetes management
Psychological Side of T1D Audience

Families of Type 1 Diabetic Children
came from all over the Houston area
to hear  Dr. Barbara Anderson speak about
the Psychological Side of T1D.


Psychological Side of T1D


An important tool in diabetes management

The Psychological Side of T1D is one of the most challenging but often overlooked aspects of diabetes care. During Diabetes Awareness Month, Type 1 “To Go”  sponsored an event with Cy Fair Type One Connection“The Psychological Side of T1D” presented by Dr. Barbara Anderson.

Dr. Anderson, Professor, Pediatrics-Psychology with Baylor College of Medicine, has over 25 years of clinical and research work with diabetic children and their families. She currently practices at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas which has one of the leading endocrinology departments in the United States.

Family Team

Event attendance was incredible. It reflected the support families are seeking regarding the psychological impact of Type 1 Diabetes. Dr. Anderson elaborated on the need for two teams – the Health Care Team and the Family Team. It was interesting to hear that behavior is the foundation of diabetes care for both the Diabetic and the Family Team.  Diabetes is demanding. And the demand takes a toll with frustration, conflicts and exhaustion. 

Diabetes Burnout and Miscarried Helping 

To briefly summarize the event, Dr. Anderson addressed two important issues encountered by families with Type 1 Diabetic children – diabetes Burnout and Miscarried Helping. Both of these issues can impact interactions and family dynamics. 

The first topic, Burnout, is actually a common occurrence in adolescents and teens who are dealing with a chronic illness. It can often be mistaken for “Teen Rebellion” or “Risk Taking” and can be quite overwhelming for families.   Thankfully, Dr. Anderson pointed out some clues to help identify Burnout.  Following the signs and increasing support from various sources were just a few of her helpful suggestions. 

It was also the first time many families heard the second topic, Miscarried Helping.  It was new terminology but most of us had lived it. The emotional investment in being a care giver can result in losing sight of the original illness-related problem.  The cycle of Miscarried Helping can lead to worry and fear from parents and discouragement for the T1D.  Though well intended,  Miscarried Helping can often lead to a power struggle between Authority vs. Autonomy. It is a situation where everyone involved can feel overwhelmed and stressed. 

Just those two issues alone can represent the frustration and exhaustion that goes along with Type 1 Diabetes management.  Dr. Anderson reminded the families that we are not alone and offered some further encouragement through Diabetes CPR

Diabetes CPR

C = Communicate
P = Problem Solve
R = Realistic Diabetes Goals

C for Communication offers families a chance to step back and ask “What is going well?”.  When things seem to be out of control, it is always important to address “What is going right?”.  Taking a moment to address what is going well can put a positive spin on the situation. 

P for Problem Solve poses the questions “What are the barriers?” and “Which of these barriers can be modified?” So much of diabetes is out of your control.  By reviewing and modifying what is within your control, the Diabetic and the Family Team can come up with some solutions together. 

R represents setting Realistic Diabetes Goals.  Not all BG readings can be explained or controlled.  And yet, parents often feel 100% responsible for something that is not in their control.  “Perfect” is not achievable, so be realistic with expectations.  And the best advice of all, reward the behavior not the BG number.  Sustained effort in management is the goal. 

Psychological support can be an important tool in managing Type 1 Diabetes.  We were grateful to hear Dr. Anderson’s perspective and support for families. Her words were encouraging and enlightening for those in attendance. 

Although T1TG focuses on the non-medical issues, it was a wonderful opportunity to partner with Cy Fair Type One Connection in bringing Dr. Anderson to so many families. Cy Fair Type One, a school advocacy and support group, offers educational programs to families of Type 1 Diabetics in Cypress, Texas. 

Life for a Child

Please read Dr. Anderson’s blog this month from Texas Children’s Hospital “A global perspective on diabetes in youth”.  In her blog, she mentions Life for Child that she discussed during our event. We encourage you to visit the Life for a Child website this Diabetes Awareness Month to be a part of saving the lives of children in the developing world.

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