Children With Diabetes at Higher Risk of Depression

And that depression is often untreated, researchers warn. Know the symptoms.



Children with diabetes are more at risk of depression than the average population, according to a 2015 study published in Diabetes Care. Alarmingly, many children with diabetes who exhibit symptoms of depression aren’t receiving treatment, researchers warned.

According to a Diabetes in Control article, 13 percent of children with Type 1 in the study showed signs of depression, but only 4 percent of the group had been treated for it by a therapist in the last year. Also, 22 percent of children with Type 2 showed signs of depression, with only 9 percent receiving therapist-led treatment in the last year. According to the CDC, 2.1 percent of U.S. children ages 3 to 17 are diagnosed with depression overall.

The information was gathered by a questionnaire sent to families of children with diabetes being cared for at diabetes centers in the U.S. Researchers received 600 completed questionnaires providing information on 261 children with Type 1 and 339 children with Type 2.

Depression can be hard to diagnose, especially in children, as many of the symptoms overlap with other common behaviors or emotions. Often, mental health professionals make the distinction that depressive behavior is exhibited over a prolonged period of time. Symptoms can include, but are not limited to:

-Anger or irritability
-Feeling sad or hopeless for a long period of time
-Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
-Difficulty concentrating or functioning
-Increased sensitivity to rejection
-Withdrawal

Researchers recommend that pediatric practitioners screen children with diabetes for signs of depression during regular checkups. Parents of children with diabetes also should look for signs of depression in their children. If depression is suspected, seek treatment. There are a variety of effective treatments for depression in children from play therapy to talk therapy to medication.

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Travis served as a staff writer for Insulin Nation and Type 2 Nation in 2015. Previously, he was a staff writer for Insight, a high school newspaper, as well as a copywriter for The Emersonian, Emerson's yearbook.