Doctor consulting with Joslin patient

Living and Coping with Diabetes

Being diagnosed with diabetes, whether it’s type 1 or type 2, is life changing. And it can make you feel worried, overwhelmed, or even scared at times. When you have diabetes, you need to pay close attention to everything you eat, your activity, and blood glucose levels — on top of everything else in life. Plus, it can make you feel angry, depressed, or anxious that you have this extra burden.

BIDMC at Joslin Diabetes Center’s compassionate care team is here to help you through the emotional impact of living with diabetes. Our team includes a uniquely qualified group of experts who specialize in the emotional aspects of diabetes. We have psychologists and social workers who are experts in counseling children, adolescents, adults, couples, families, and groups.

We're Here To Support You

People come to our behavioral health specialists for many different reasons. Regardless of your reason, we're here to help you thrive throughout your journey with diabetes.

Our team works with people who are newly diagnosed with diabetes or who are feeling burned out with their diabetes plan. We can help you:

  • Develop positive lifestyle habits
  • Cope with diabetes burnout and other diabetes stressors
  • Cope with problems like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders
  • Handle food concerns and weight management
  • Overcome fears of hypoglycemia
  • Teach family members about the demands of diabetes

No matter your reason for visiting us, we’re here to support both your physical and emotional health. Nothing brings us greater joy than seeing our patients thrive emotionally and live life to the fullest.

If you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes, you probably have many questions. You also might feel overwhelmed, in denial, or even angry. All of these feelings are normal. But, it’s also important to address them head-on and early, so you can stay on the pathway to good health.

Our behavioral health specialists, including counselors and therapists, will talk with you about your concerns and questions, and recommend techniques for managing your thought process. Our team is empathetic, caring, creative, and kind. We love working with our patients and have great success helping them adjust their thought processes and work through their emotions.

People with diabetes are more likely to experience depression. They might feel alone or different from their friends and family because of the disease. We’ve found that depression can manifest itself in several ways, including:

  • A change in sleep habits, either sleeping more or less
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A loss of pleasure in typical activities
  • A change in appetite
  • Thoughts of guilt, sadness, or anger
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Thoughts of suicide

There are many different treatments for depression, and our behavioral health specialists can recommend the right approach for you if you experience this common condition. Often we will recommend:

  • Counseling or therapy
  • Medications (under the care of a psychiatrist)

We’re here to support you, and we believe depression can be treated with our team's compassionate care, expertise, and support.

Research shows that people with diabetes often experience eating disorders, particularly women with type 1 diabetes. Society puts so much pressure on people to look a certain way, and this pressure can be overwhelming.

Diabetes also forces people to pay close attention to their diet, weight, and activity routines. And, this attention can lead to unhealthy thought patterns, including serious eating disorders. Bulimia is a common eating disorder among women with type 1 diabetes, while binge eating is more common among those with type 2 diabetes.

Our behavioral health specialists are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder early on — and know how to help. We are experienced in working with patients with:

  • Anorexia
  • Bulimia
  • Binge eating disorders
  • Chewing food and spitting it out
  • Other types of eating disorders

We’re here to help all of our patients experience the best health possible. And, we’ll work together as a full team to address any eating disorder along the way.

Diabetes can be unpredictable, and sometimes, complications arise. Whether it’s heart disease, nerve damage, eye problems, foot issues, or kidney disease — it’s not easy. Learning about a major complication can be life changing.

It’s normal to feel angry, overwhelmed, or sad during this time. Just know that Joslin specialists can help you no matter what you’re going through. Our behavioral health team will partner with your endocrinologist and any other specialists to address your diabetes complications in a private, comforting manner. We’ll help you manage the emotions you’re experiencing and navigate the next chapter in your diabetes journey.

Meet Our Specialists

Debbie Butler
Debbie Butler, MSW, LICSW, CDE
Clinical Social Worker
Director, Behavioral Health and Pediatric Programs
Lecturer in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Persis Commissariat
Persis Commissariat, PhD, CDCES
Pediatric Psychologist
Instructor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Research Associate
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Sarah Gatti, MSW, LICSW
Clinical Social Worker
Lecturer in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
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Christine Mitchell, LICSW
Clinical Social Worker
Marilyn Ritholz
Marilyn Ritholz, PhD
Senior Psychologist
Assistant Professor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Amit Shapira
Amit Shapira, PhD
Clinical Psychologist
Instructor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School

To make an adult care appointment, call 617-309-2400 or make an appointment online.