Nearly 66% of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes have high-stress levels. Stress can both contribute to and can be a consequence of diabetes. Keeping your stress levels under control can help you manage your diabetes better.
What is Stress?
Stress is the way your mind and body reacts in any given situation. It might be temporary, like worrying about a meeting in the office or feeling tense before giving a presentation. Or it can be due to something serious like an accident or an illness. You may also have constant worries about finances or family relationships or coping with the loss of someone very close to you.
Stress can affect you emotionally, physically and mentally.
High stress can worsen your diabetes in 5 different ways-
Can Stress Cause Diabetes?
Many researchers are still exploring this question. However, there is enough evidence from several studies that suggest that stress increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. High levels of stress hormones might stop insulin-producing cells in the pancreas from working correctly. Or people, when highly stressed out, might end up overeating and putting on weight. All these factors do cause diabetes or increase the risk.
Is it only ‘Negative Stress’ which can affect your blood sugars?
Not really. Even positive life changes can cause blood sugars to swing. For example, events like planning a wedding, moving to a new city or getting a job promotion – these ‘happy stressors’ can also cause the level of stress hormones to rise in your blood and lead to high blood sugars. This means that if you have diabetes or are at risk of developing it, you should keep a close watch on your sugars while various significant events keep happening in your life.
In the above section, we have tried to understand how stress can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes or worsen it further. However, having diabetes and managing it can be equally stressful and emotionally burdening for many. For example, a recent study on 100 patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes showed that 60% of patients had a high emotional burden of diabetes. This is the extent to which diabetes has affected them emotionally. As a result, these patients have started perceiving diabetes as a burden.
And 52% of patients had high regimen distress. The regimen includes all lifestyle behaviours like following a strict diet, exercising regularly, finding time for relaxation, taking medicines on time, monitoring blood sugar levels regularly – all of this can add a lot of stress to an individual.
In addition to this, some people with diabetes worry about hypoglycemia (a condition in which blood sugars drop below 70 mg/dL). It might be stressful wondering when and where hypo might happen and how to manage it. This is known as hypo anxiety.
Diabefly Pro – A lifestyle program to manage stress and diabetes together
If you have diabetes, stress management is not only about finding different ways to relax; it is also about controlling your blood sugars. While stress can cause fluctuations in your blood glucose levels, the reverse can also happen. In other words, uncontrolled diabetes levels can affect your emotions too. So ignoring stress or pretending that you don’t have any stress will not help. Instead, you should take advice from an expert Diabetes Educator and a Clinical Psychologist to help you manage both — your blood sugar and your stress levels.
To help you manage stress and diabetes together, we have designed a multidisciplinary Diabetes Care Program for people with Diabetes – Diabefly Pro. Our team of experts includes a Clinical Psychologist, a Nutritionist & a Diabetes Educator and a Certified Physiotherapist. Diabefly is a digital program that provides 360-degree care focusing on the 3 main pillars of diabetes management: stress management, nutrition, and physical activity.
Get one-on-one consultation, guided group therapy sessions and prescription from Diabefly’s Clinical Psychologist to manage stress and prevent blood sugar fluctuations.
Pouwer, F., Kupper, N., & Adriaanse, M. C. (2010). Does emotional stress cause type 2 diabetes mellitus? A review from the European Depression in Diabetes (EDID) Research Consortium. Discovery medicine, 9(45), 112-118.
Lloyd, C., Smith, J., & Weinger, K. (2005). Stress and diabetes: a review of the links. Diabetes spectrum, 18(2), 121-127.
Napora, J. (2013). Managing stress and diabetes. American Diabetes Association.
Surwit, R. S., Schneider, M. S., & Feinglos, M. N. (1992). Stress and diabetes mellitus. Diabetes care, 15(10), 1413-1422.