Diabetes Management,Diabetes Reversal,Stress in Diabetes

From Psychologist’s Desk: How Stress Can Worsen Your Diabetes

November 2021

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-

  1. Stress can increase your blood sugar levelsWhen there is a stressful situation, your body releases the stress hormones – Cortisol and Adrenaline into the bloodstream. These hormones help the body to get through challenging situations (fight or flight). As a result, your heart rate or breathing may speed up. More and more energy is required in the body to deal with stressful situations. Hence more sugar is released into the blood so that all the systems of the body can utilize adequate energy. The net result is – high blood sugar levels.
  2. Stress can affect the metabolism of your bodyWhen dealing with chronic stress, you might notice some weight gain, especially around the belly. This is commonly known as the Stress Belly. This is because when cortisol levels increase in the blood, it increases your appetite. Additionally, elevated cortisol levels can increase your craving for salty, sweet and fatty foods. As a result, you may end up eating more and eating up all unhealthy junk at odd hours, due to which fat accumulation increases many folds.
  3. Stress can lead to Insulin ResistanceInsulin is a hormone that helps to control sugar levels in the body. However, due to prolonged stress and high cortisol levels, your pancreas may find it challenging to secrete enough insulin to channelize excess glucose in the body and convert it into energy. Due to this, sugar levels increase, leading to several health complications. This is insulin resistance, which can increase the risk of developing Prediabetes. Or, if you have diabetes already, then high stress levels can further worsen your health condition.
  4. Stress impacts sleep, which impairs glucose toleranceStress often causes tension and anxiety in the individual’s mind, making it challenging to have a sound sleep at night. Research suggests that a minimum of 6 hours of sleep is required for a healthy individual. If you sleep less than 6 hours per day, it can lead to glucose intolerance, a condition in which the body cannot dispose of excess glucose. This often precedes or can even worsen Type 2 diabetes.
  5. Stress affects your lifestyle factorsHigh-stress levels may result in unhealthy lifestyle habits like eating unhealthy foods, lack of exercise or physical exercise, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. In addition, negativity in thoughts forces an individual to seek support and temporary relief from such activities. These lifestyle habits can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes or further worsen the disease.

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.

Kill two birds with one stone, enrol for Diabefly Pro. For more information, visit our website at https://www.fitterfly.com/diabefly or call us at 022 48971077 (Ext. no.1)

Was this article helpful?

You may also like

Diabetes Management | By Heena Jha

How Does High Blood Sugar Affect Your Periods

If you have irregular periods, you know the struggles you must go through every month. Symptoms like extreme mood shifts, heavy bleeding, cramps, and cravings are just the beginning of […]

Read more
Diabetes Management | By Debolina Raja

Is Apple Good for Diabetes?

An apple a day can keep the doctor away but can it do the same for diabetes? An apple a day can keep the doctor away but can it do […]

Read more
Diabetes Management,Healthy-diet | By Debolina Raja

Is Papaya Good for Diabetes?

Papaya helps control blood sugar: Myth or Fact If you or a loved one have diabetes, one of the things you constantly think about is what foods are safe to […]

Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *