A family with a youth living with diabetes can face new costs approaching $12,000 per year or much higher.

Being diagnosed with diabetes can be a shock for the individual as well as the family. It is not uncommon for youth to feel depressed and discouraged by such a diagnosis. Type 1 diabetes presents one with a very steep learning curve; for example, how and when to administer insulin and how much to inject each time.

Both types require immediate changes in diet and general life style and families face a new set of needs when it comes to grocery shopping and meal preparation.

Normal routines are disrupted by the need to schedule regular visits to supporting medical professionals. Taking a trip or playing team sports, for example, require new pre-planning considerations.

The collective demands can be overwhelming and not surprisingly, the period of adjustment can be protracted and discouraging.

Adjustment, anxiety and various eating disorders are common mental health difficulties that arise in combination with the onset of diabetes.

Depression is noted by some to be the most common mental disorder occurring in youth living with diabetes. A related, but different, condition called Diabetes Stress or ‘burnout’ can arise as a result of the endless demand for management of diabetes.

Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are life-long conditions.

Learning to thrive, not just survive, with diabetes requires your commitment.

You need support from family, healthcare providers, teachers, friends and peers.

  1. Learn how to ‘self-manage’ your condition safely and effectively. This is a new life challenge that must be met. Resources are available to help you at every stage. You need to ‘take charge’ and enlist the help of parents and others to ensure you know how to access available resources.
  2. Recognize that your condition has to be managed 24/7. You need a game plan for a variety of circumstances; e.g., at school, when playing sports, on field trips, on vacation, on extended travel periods. Not every country has the same resources. Check the reality before you depart.
  3. Stay in touch with your health care provider teamwith the frequency they recommend and expect.
  4. Reduce your risk of contracting diabetes complications by eating well, exercising regularly, maintaining an appropriate body weight and not smoking.
  5. Try to minimize your stress. Living with diabetes is not easy and the ever-present need to manage your condition well can lead to anxiety, eating disorders, degrees of depression and diabetes ‘burnout’. If you are feeling down and discouraged, seek help from family, friends and online groups.
  6. Get ready for your ‘Transition’.It is imperative for you and your family to recognize that eventually, you will need to move from the paediatric to adult health care system. That ‘transition’ can be daunting if left to the last minute. Get started early to acquire an understanding of what is required and how you can ensure continuity of support. In many jurisdictions, that transition needs to be completed by the time you reach age 19; perhaps, sooner.