Stress In People With Type 1 Diabetes
Stress can affect those with type 1 diabetes by both increasing and decreasing blood sugar. In the case where it lowers blood sugar levels, chronic stress can lead to a syndrome known as adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is where prolonged exposure to stress drains the adrenal glands, leading to a low cortisol state. In those with type 1 diabetes, the underproduction of hormones such as cortisol can cause an imbalance in hormones that are meant to regulate blood sugar levels.
Research has also looked at whether stress can cause diabetes. Many studies have postulated that chronic stress especially can contribute to the onset of type 1 diabetes in those who are already susceptible to developing it.
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So What Causes High Blood Sugar Levels In Non
Now that you know the dynamics of food digestion, glucose absorption into blood circulation and the expected insulin response, explaining what causes high blood sugar in non-diabetics becomes logical.
So, here it goes:
If you have a fully functioning beta cells in your pancreas that produce, store, and release insulin in response to blood sugar rises when you eat, then a quick response is expected to regulate blood sugar. This quick response prevents unnecessary blood glucose fluctuations.
And this process of blood sugar correction works so efficiently that within an hour and half of eating, your blood sugar levels should return to the fasting blood sugar levels of below 100mg/dl .
In fact, at 2 hours after-meal, both the first phase and second phase insulin release from the beta cells should have your blood sugar levels down to 80mg/dl .
However, if your First phase insulin response and more importantly, your Second phase insulin release is defective or sluggish for whatever reason, then you will have high blood sugar level even if you are non-diabetic. This is actually referred to as Impaired Glucose Tolerance.
Persistent impaired glucose tolerance is actually pre-diabetes.
Impaired glucose tolerance precedes Type 2 diabetes. If your blood sugar level remains high despite your first and second phase insulin release best efforts, such that it hits 200mg/dl 2 hours after eating, then by definition, you are now diabetic.
Can Stress Affect My Blood Sugar Levels
There are several ways that stress may affect your blood sugar levels. Stress induces the well-known fight-or-flight response, in which your body increases its levels of certain stress hormones. These, in turn, cause a rise in the amount of sugar in your blood, where it’s available to be used by your cells as fuel. If your body doesn’t have enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it has in order to get that blood sugar into your cells, your blood sugar levels remain high. Stress may also indirectly increase your blood sugar levels by causing you to abandon your good habits. When stressed, you may not eat well or exercise regularly, or you may drink more alcohol. These habits can cause your blood sugar levels to rise. In addition, you may not take time to check your blood glucose levels as often when you are stressed, so you may not be aware of the effects that the stress is having on your blood sugar levels. If you feel that stress is affecting your diabetes, talk to your doctor.
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What Happens In Your Body When You Get Stressed
Stress hormones have a big role to play.
When youre experiencing physical or emotional stress, hormones are released that increase your blood sugar. Cortisol and adrenaline are other primary hormones involved.
This is a perfectly natural response. For example, if youre being chased by a barking dog or youre in a dangerous situation, you need these hormones to prepare your body for a fight or flight situation.
But when youre stressed, your body releases these hormones, even if there isnt a major physical threat involved.
The result? Higher blood pressure, increased heart rate and a rise in blood sugar.
The problem becomes more complicated.
If youre consistently under stress, your hormones and sugar will continue to surge.
Over time, this can put you at risk for:
- Heart disease
This is one reason why its so important to treat your stress and anxiety.
How Can Stress Affect Diabetes
At the dawn of time, our ancestors lived in a world of danger. When they were attacked by cave bears, it was a bad idea to stay calm. So whenever they saw danger, their brains sounded a stress alarm that put their bodies into action.
This ability to feel stress got passed down to us in the modern age. The problem is that our brains cant tell the difference between physical danger and social or emotional danger, so they all stress us out in the same way. So today, although bear attacks are less common, stress is a much larger part of our lives. In 2018, a Gallup poll found that 55% of Americans felt stress during a lot of the day, while 45% said they felt worried a lot when asked about how they felt the previous day
Stress can still be helpful when it helps us take on challenges, provided that we get some rest afterward. But when stress lasts for a long time, without giving us a chance to rest, it can do serious damage to our bodies. It can increase our risk for diabetes, or make our current diabetes worse.
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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 .
Ways To Reduce Mental Stress
- Teach yourself to relax when under stress using deep-breathing exercises or techniques you learn in a stress-management class.
- Evaluate your schedule and determine if you can make changes to relieve stress.
- Exercise regularly
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How To Manage Your Stress Levels
Some forms of stress cannot be managed, especially if they are not frequent in nature such as a one-time traumatic event or an accidental injury. Other types of stress, such as taking care of family, work stressors, or any other day-to-day stressful situations, will likely be there permanently or semipermanently. These types of stressful events are the ones that need to be managed as best you can.
To do this, you can proactively plan ahead. This means being prepared for the regular stressors of life and managing your time, reading self-help books, or minimizing the source of stress as much as possible. Calming exercises such as yoga and meditation have also been proven to reduce stress levels. You will also want to avoid indulging in unhealthy behaviors such as overeating. It may seem comforting at the time, but it will not help to relieve the stress you are experiencing.
Setting realistic and manageable goals is also a big stress reducer for those with diabetes. Instead of focusing on a large and vague goal such as losing weight, setting a goal of walking for at least a half-hour every day on specific days of the week will be much more achievable.
Stay Organized To Improve Your A1c And Lower Stress
Staying organized about all the aspects of your care doctors appointments, at-home blood-glucose monitoring, medication schedules can help with overall diabetes management. According to past research, maintaining solid organizational practices are linked to lower chronic cortisol levels, and finding a diabetes-management routine that works for you will also reduce the risk of health complications.
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Handling Your Response To Stress
You have some control over your reaction to stress. You can learn to relax and this may reduce your bodys hormonal response to stress. There are often groups in your community, or books you can read, that teach relaxation techniques.
Some of these techniques are surprisingly simple and effective. There are a range of options to help you relax. For example:
Getting regular exercise
Consciously replacing bad thoughts with good ones
Whatever method you choose to relax, practice it. Just as it takes weeks or months of practice to learn a new sport, it takes practice to learn relaxation.
You can also often make quite simple lifestyle changes that can help reduce some of the stress factors. For example, if you always get very stressed when you get stuck in a traffic jam that makes you late for work, think about what other options are open to you. Would it be a more healthy option for you to walk to the railway station and take the train?
Take time to look at your life coolly and clearly. One way to do this is to imagine that you are a friend who has come to talk to you over the fact that their life is getting them down. What changes could that friend make in their life? Changes that would either reduce their stress levels or strengthen their ability to cope?
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 Your Body Reacts To Stress
When your body detects the presence of stress and anxiety, it sees it as an attack. As such, the central nervous system prepares your body for the battle. It does this by producing increased amounts of adrenaline and cortisol.
These two hormones have a direct impact on your coronary system. Your heart starts pumping blood and rushing it to different parts of your body. This is to ensure that all your organs have enough energy to fight the symptoms of stress. And there are many possible symptoms, ranging from heartburn to trouble breathing.
If stress is a constant in your life, it can result in a number of chronic illnesses. These include severe insomnia, infertility, and even heart attack. Moreover, stress also affects your blood sugar levels, which can worsen the symptoms of diabetes.
Not Brushing And Flossing
If you have diabetes, youre more likely to get gum disease . And serious gum disease can make it harder to keep your blood sugar under control. Like all infections, it may cause your glucose to rise. That, in turn, can make other infections more likely. Inflamed or infected gums can also cause your bodys defense system to go into overdrive. That makes it harder for your body to keep insulin and blood sugar in check.
Make sure you not only brush and floss your teeth but also rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash daily.
Keep up with your dentist visits, work on managing your blood sugar, and, if you have gum disease, treat it — and any other infection in any part of your body — ASAP.
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Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Sugar
Yes! Stress and anxiety may play a role in causing high glucose levels in the blood. It has been reported that those who had frequent symptoms of anxiety and stress, their blood sugar levels were quite high.
In recent research, it was found out that anxiety can be a significant factor for developing hyperglycemia.
How and why does anxiety cause high blood sugar can be due to the hormonal change during stressful conditions.
When we are stressed or face a distressing situation, our body goes into fight-and-flight mode and stress hormones are released in the blood. Cortisol, the main stress hormone is diabetogenic, causing the blood sugar levels to rise.
Moreover, epinephrine , growth hormone, and glucagon are also released during stressful conditions and anxiety. They also may be responsible for the high blood sugar levels during anxiety.
How Does Stress Work
When the brain senses danger, it releases stress hormones that get the body ready for action. Blood sugar rises, to give the body extra fuel. This gives us a burst of energy that ends when the danger goes away.
But when stress lasts for a long time, and the body isnt given a chance to rest, the brain stays in a constant state of alarm, so it keeps producing stress hormones that keep raising blood sugar. This is great for a short burst of energy, but constantly high blood sugar is toxic and leads to diabetes symptoms.
Stress also increases insulin resistance, which makes our bodies less able to reduce blood sugar. And to top it all off, stress might encourage us to try to relax with unhealthy habits like smoking, eating high-calorie foods, or isolating ourselves, which can worsen diabetes and make us even more stressed in the long run.
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The Wrong Way To Deal With Stress When You Have Diabetes
Food, alcohol, self-pity: These unhealthy coping mechanisms do more harm than good. When were stressed out, we turn to unhealthy food comfort food and we may start eating a lot of sweets, Belfort De Aguiar says. These are the wrong ways to cope with stress.
Also, find ways to reach out and find social connection with your loved ones. Campbell also warns against keeping your emotions bottled up inside. Be sure to share your stress, she says, even it just means having someone listen to you vent.
For more on dealing with diabetes burnout, check out Diabetes Daily’s article “How to Get Out of a Diabetes Rut“!
How To Reduce Anxiety
First, lets be clear: If youre experiencing anxiety, we want to know about it. We care about much more than your physical health. We know that mental health is an important part of your overall well-being.
We care about our patients, and we are always in your corner, ready to help you.
Following are some useful tips for reducing anxiety:
- Any type of physical activity, even if its just a quick walk around the block during your lunch break.
- Reducing or eliminating your alcohol and caffeine consumption
- Getting enough sleep
If your anxiety continues for more than two weeks or if youre finding it difficult to complete everyday activities, you should consider talking to a counselor or psychologist who can provide help and direction. We can provide a referral if needed.
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Reducing Stress In The Moment
- Close your eyes and take deep inhales and exhales for 30 seconds
- Go for a walk
- Exercise to get your heart rate UP which causes your central nervous system to relax
- Go for a drive
- Watch your favorite stand-up comedy
- Make a to-do list to get everything off your mind
- Clean your house
- Create a voice memo like your own private therapy session
- Dance to your favorite music
Everything that makes you calm down, makes you smile, or helps your body relax will have a positive effect on your stress level.
Keeping Your Blood Sugar Under Control During Anxiety: Raleigh Medical Group Can Help
This is a team effort.
Dont feel you have to go it alone.
For decades weve been the provider of choice in the Raleigh, Cary and Triangle areas. Our experienced, compassionate physicians and health care team are ready to guide you toward the healthiest life possible.
Scheduling an appointment is easyand now we even offer convenient telehealth appointments.
Dont let stress ruin your health. Contact us today.
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Caution: Birth Control Pills
Types that have estrogen can affect the way your body handles insulin. Still, oral contraceptives are safe for women with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association suggests a combination pill with norgestimate and synthetic estrogen. The group also says birth control shots and implants are safe for women with the condition, though they can affect your blood sugar levels.
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.
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