How Stress Affects Diabetes

Stress is a part of life, and no one can fully escape it. When you have a disease like diabetes, it's hard not to stress. With all the things you need to think about to keep your diabetes managed, stress seems par for the course.

You know that too much stress is not good for anyone, but did you know that stress can make diabetes worse?

Stress Raises Blood Glucose Levels

Stress is a biological response when your brain sends messages to your body that there is a threat. Unfortunately, the body can't tell the difference between a pouncing saber-toothed tiger and being stuck in a traffic jam. So it reacts the same way.

Stress causes the over-production of hormones like epinephrine and cortisol. These hormones raise your blood sugar because in a fight-or-flight response, your body would need that energy. Since you don't need to fight off a saber-toothed tiger, you just end up with a blood sugar spike.

Stress on the Brain

A part of your brain called the hippocampus, is partly responsible for shutting down the body's response to stress when the hormonal response is no longer necessary. Extreme chronic stress might damage the hippocampus, making it hard for your brain to turn off the stress response.

Stress in Relation to Heart Attack and Stroke

Diabetics are more at risk for heart attack and stroke, especially when blood sugar levels are out of control. Stress increases this risk. Stress raises blood pressure, and makes it difficult for the body to break down fat in the bloodstream.

Stress in Relation to Diabetic Management

Managing your diabetes can be more difficult when you feel you are under stress. Stress can lead to depression, giving up in frustration, or comfort eating.

Avoiding stress altogether is impossible, but stress management should be an essential part to diabetes management.

Photo: Anxiety Ink