Dealing With Diabetes Can Cause Anxiety
Lets face it: Controlling diabetes is hard work. That in itself is enough to cause worry and stress. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, those with diabetes are 20 percent more likely to experience anxiety than those without the disease.
We understand this, and were dedicated to helping alleviate your worry by working together as a team to address any distressing issues.
Fill Your Doctor In On Big Life Changes
If a stressful situation is causing your blood sugar to swing, your healthcare team needs to know. Says Campbell, Your doctor may temporarily change your diabetes medication or put you on a higher dose. If necessary, he or she can even make a referral to a mental health professional. Right now, increasingly more primary care physicians, psychologists, and other healthcare professionals are offering telehealth services so that you can get the help you need while maintaining social distancing practices.
How Stress Affects Blood Sugar
Research studies have connected many different physical conditions to having too much stress. Things like chronic fatigue syndrome and obesity have been linked to increased stress levels. It turns out that stress has an impact on blood sugar levels, which has great implications for those suffering from diabetes.
People under increased levels of stress are suffering from a heightened fight or flight response. This causes the adrenal glands to put out norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol when exposed to the stressor. The stomach knots up, the respiratory rate is faster, and the heart rate is faster. The cortisol released by the adrenal cortex causes elevated blood sugar levels in an attempt to provide cellular fuel if the body actually needs to go into fighting or fleeing.
If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, it means that your bodys cells are insulin resistant. The rise in glucose that comes from stress and cortisol release isnt managed well and the blood sugar has no place to go. It means that the blood sugar levels will be too high.
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How Can Different Types Of Stress Affect Your Diabetes
Stress can affect people differently. The type of stress that you experience can also have an impact on your bodys physical response.
When people with type 2 diabetes are under mental stress, they generally experience an increase in their blood glucose levels. People with type 1 diabetes may have a more varied response. This means that they can experience either an increase or a decrease in their blood glucose levels.
When youre under physical stress, your blood sugar can also increase. This can happen when youre sick or injured. This can affect people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Emotional Stress May Cause A Rise In Glucose Levels
We are mostly aware of physical stress and how to manage it. Emotional stress is more complicated to detect and so more difficult to manage. Feelings like fear, anxiety, anger and excitement all cause the body to secrete stress hormones into the bloodstream, to help prepare the body for the so-called fight-or-flight response. When the body is under stress, the adrenal glands become enlarged and produce two hormones – adrenaline and noradrenaline. While the main role of noradrenaline is to prevent blood pressure from falling, adrenaline is an important blood glucose regulating substance1. Raising blood glucose is important in stressful situations, as the body prepares itself for a lot of physical and mental activity. The release of adrenaline helps achieve this and, combined with the increase in blood pressure, ensures the supply of oxygen and glucose to all parts of the body².
For people who do not have diabetes, the body releases insulin to reduce high blood glucose levels. However, for people with diabetes, stress may contribute to increase blood glucose levels for many days, weeks or months.
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Ways To Reduce Mental Stress3
- Learn how to relax during stressful moments by using deep-breathing exercises.
- Evaluate your schedule to find how to make changes to relieve stress.
- Exercise regularly and take regular outdoor walks to experience nature, which generally has a soothing effect on the body and soul.
It is important to understand what stress is and how it effects your body. By identfiying and actively finding healthy ways to overcome your stress triggers, you can help to improve your diabetes management.
References1. Glucerna.How Stress Affects Blood Sugar Levels 2020. Abbott Laboratories. Available at: https://glucerna.com/why-glucerna/how-stress-affects-blood-sugar-levels..2. Diabetes UK. Stress And Blood Glucose-Levels.2019. Diabetes Digital Media. Available at: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/stress-and-blood-glucose-levels.html .3. Mind Organisation. Stress. 1st ed. London: Mind publications, p.1-15. 2017. Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/2959/stress-2017.pdf .
/9take Out Some Time For Yourself Every Day
This one is a no-brainer. If you are not able to catch a break between work from home and working for home, we suggest revisiting your priorities. Being a patient of diabetes, it is all the more essential for you to take out at least 30 minutes every day and do something that helps you calm down and relax. You can opt for yoga and meditation to wind down or even listen to soothing songs and take a power nap. Get in touch with yourself and understand how you are feeling.
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Practice Mindfulness To Promote A Feeling Of Calm
Whether you choose deep-breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga, mindfulness techniques are designed to help you reduce stress.
A short-term randomized controlled trial of 60 people with type 2 diabetes found that those who used mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques saw improved fasting blood sugar and A1C and lower levels of anxiety and depression. Researchers published those results in 2018 in the Journal of Diabetes Research.
Explore a variety of relaxation techniques, Belfort De Aguiar suggests, to find one that works for you. If you have trouble winding down, apps such as Headspace and Calm are popular, budget-friendly options for learning how to practice mindfulness.
Embracing Mindfulness In Your Own Life
- Develop a mindfulness practice. Deep breathing is a classic mindfulness practice that is easy to implement and truly works. A 2020 study, Effectiveness of slow deep breathing exercise on decreasing stress levels for patients with diabetes mellitus, found that engaging in deep breathing exercises reduced stress in those living with diabetes. Yoga has been shown to help, too. No matter what mindfulness practice you adopt, the key is to be present in the moment notice the full sensory experience around you. When were not living in the past or in the future, our bodys internal stress response naturally slows down. And remember: You can practice mindfulness anywhere, from taking a walk to doing the dishes.
- Avoid stress eating.Eating when youre emotional can have a negative impact on your blood sugar levels. Emotional eating occurs when you eat as a result of how you feel, not because your body truly needs fuel. And when that happens, youre more likely to reach for high-fat, high-sugar foods that cause blood sugar levels to rise . Tuning into why youre reaching for certain foods can help you short-circuit the mood-food chain reaction. This requires you to be more mindful about how stress plays a role in your food choices.
Eliminate Whats Stressing You Out
While this seems obvious, it should be your first plan of action. You might not be able to completely avoid the stress, but you could reduce it by brainstorming alternatives and problem solving. If you want to avoid rush-hour traffic, try leaving at a different time or adopt a new route. If a relationship is troubling you, see if you can make amends. If you find you cannot accomplish tasks at hand, find new ways to get organized.
Recharge Your Batteries By Getting A Good Nights Sleep
Plenty of research shows that lack of adequate sleep can lead to emotional strain for example, a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience shows that sleep deprivation is a contributing factor to anxiety disorders. Whats more, poor sleep may cause blood sugar levels to swing: In a large study published in Diabetes Care, people with type 2 diabetes who slept less than 4.5 hours per night had higher blood sugar levels than those who slept 6.5 to just over 7 hours a night. Sleeping too much was also associated with higher blood sugar. Getting enough sleep can help your diabetes management, Campbell says. If youre not sleeping well at night, discuss the matter with your doctor.
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How To Deal With Stress As A Person With Diabetes
In general, theres only so much you can do to prevent the blood sugar spikes from different types of stress hormones because we cant always predict stress.
However, if youre dealing with predictable stress or ongoing stress, definitely talk to your healthcare team about an adjustment in your insulin doses that can help tamper those stubborn high blood sugars.
For those unexpected bursts of stress and rapid spikes in your blood sugar:
You should use your established correction factor to determine an appropriate dose of insulin to bring the blood sugar down.
But keep in mind: its very likely your blood sugar will sit at that higher level until your body has recovered from the stressful state. When those stress hormones are pumping and adrenaline is causing your liver to produce more glucose, it can be very difficult to get ahead of it.
For ongoing stress during a period of your life:
If you know the next few months are going to be stressful because of a promotion at work, a divorce, the death of a loved one for example then a simple increase by a few units in your background insulin dose can have a big impact on staying in your goal blood sugar range.
Dont underestimate how much ongoing stress can affect your daily insulin needs. Even on the normal days during a stressful period of your life, your body is still coping with that ongoing stressor.
Dont Let Stress Rule You
Managing your diabetes can often feel like walking a tightrope. And adding in stress management can feel daunting. But we are here to reassure you, you can do it!
As always, keep calm and regularly check your blood sugar and watch the trends in your CGM. If you take insulin, let it run its course when you make small corrections and avoid the angry bolus. Keep good records, use your mySugr App to track yourstressors, and let your coach or doctor guide you on good therapy choices.
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How To Keep Cortisol At Bay
There are several ways you can help keep your cortisol levels under control.
Naturally, theres exercise which helps improve virtually all aspects of your health.
But we also have other, perhaps even more effective methods.
These include meditation, eating the right foods, and taking natural anti-stress nootropics.
See for yourself:
Follow These Steps To Find Out If Your Blood Sugar Levels Are Affected By Mental Stress:
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Can Stress Raise Blood Sugar Levels
You might already know thatstress can have an impact on many aspects of your life, from how well you sleep to how much you weigh. And if you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, you no doubt already know how important it is to keep your blood sugar from dipping too low or spiking too high. But did you know that stress has been shown to make it harder to control diabetes? Stress affects your blood sugar levels. But there are ways to mitigate stress, positively impacting your blood sugar managementand mindfulness can help.
How Can Glucose Levels Influence Depression
There are a few reasons for poor glucose control resulting in higher prevalence of depression in both diabetic and healthy populations. Research has shown that diets high in added sugars or foods that ultimately raise your blood sugar are linked to depression and adverse mental health symptoms after several years. This informs us that diets high in added sugar impacts mental health on a long-term basis.
High dietary intake of added sugar has impacts on various metabolic processes that may result in the development of depression
- Excessive sugar intake can lead to inflammation in the body, which is correlated with higher risks of depression, along with varied high and low glucose levels that impacts fluctuations in our hormones. Hormone dysregulation can often have a negative effect on our moods and is linked to greater risk for depression over time.
Excess sugar intake can have an addictive like effect
- Diets high in added sugar can often impact our pleasure / reward chemical, dopamine, in the brain Ã¢ resulting in an addictive effect that feeds a cycle of poor mood, depression, and desire for more sugar to improve those feelings.
Overall stress related to being diagnosed with and managing diabetes
Studies show a biological relationship related to a mechanism in the brain that predisposes diabetics to depression
Increased blood glucose levels have been associated with increasing the neurotransmitter Glutamate
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Anxiety Over Diabetes Management
Managing your blood sugar and other aspects of your health when you have diabetes can be time consuming and stressful, and also contribute to anxiety.
For people with diabetes, monitoring blood sugar usually involves a home finger prick test. Fear of needles, as well as fear of the results, may lead to anxiety.
One study found that 33% of people with diabetes experience anxiety specific to the finger prick method of glucose testing. Thirty percent of people with diabetes in this same study had generalized anxiety related to their diabetes management.
Other areas of diabetes management may also lead to stress and anxiety. This includes monitoring potential symptoms of vision loss , nerve damage , slow-healing wounds on the feet or extremities, kidney damage, and more.
How To Reduce Your Stress Levels
Learning what helps you manage, reduce, and relieve your overall stress level is a vital lesson. Sometimes the simplest thing can help you take a deep breath, lower your blood pressure, lower stress hormones, and release the physical and mental grip of stress.
Here are a few ideas for reducing your stress levels:
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Stress In People With Type 2 Diabetes
For people with type 2 diabetes, high levels of stress can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels. When there is a high level of cortisol in the body, it causes body tissues to be less sensitive to insulin. Therefore, more blood sugar is available in the bloodstream. When this happens, blood sugar levels become imbalanced and can reach dangerously high levels, especially if it is left untreated.
How To Cope With Stress
Everyone copes with stressful situations in different ways. If you want to change the way you react so things feel easier, try the Stress Manager tool on our Learning Zone. Answer questions on how you deal with the demands of managing your condition to get a plan of action to help you simplify stressful situations.
Look after yourself
At times of stress, its even more important to remember to look after yourself and treat yourself kindly.
But we know its not always as easy as that. If youre extra busy at work or looking after family then forgetting to eat or take medication can happen.
Its important to get a balance between looking after yourself without putting too much pressure on yourself to do everything perfectly. This can add or lead to stress. But its good to be aware of how easy it can be to give into the habit of letting diabetes self-care slip in times of stress.
Getting enough sleep and building exercise, rest and relaxation time into your routine helps some people cope better with stress.
“When things get hard, I usually go into self-care over drive. If too many hypos are throwing me off, I’ll hole up on the sofa with blankets and some trashy TV to make me feel better.”
Laura, who has type 1 diabetes – read Laura’s story
And you dont need us to tell you that turning to comfort food will raise your blood sugar and make you feel worse. Similarly, drinking more alcohol will affect your blood sugar levels.
Talk to others
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How Can You Determine If Mental Stress Is Affecting Your Glucose Levels
Keeping track of additional information, such as the date and what you were doing at the time you were stressed, may help you determine specific triggers. For example, are you more stressed on Monday mornings? If so, you know now to take special steps on Monday mornings to lower your stress and keep your glucose in check.
You can figure out if this is happening to you by capturing your stress and glucose levels. If you feel stressed, rate your level of mental stress on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten represents the highest level of stress. Write this number down.
After rating your stress, you should check your glucose levels. Continue doing this for the next couple of weeks. Before long, you may see a pattern emerge. If you notice that your glucose is regularly high, its likely that your mental stress is negatively affecting you blood sugar.