How Stress Affects Blood Sugar Levels in People with Diabetes?

Updated on & Medically Reviewed by Dr Lalitha

Have You Ever Wondered How Stress can Impact Individuals Living with Diabetes? 

Can Stress Raise Blood Sugar Levels?

YES! Understanding the link between stress and diabetes is crucial for effectively managing this chronic condition. In this article, we will delve into the impact of stress on the diabetic population, explore the underlying mechanisms, and provide practical strategies to minimize stress control in diabetic populations. So first let’s know how stress affects blood sugar levels.

How Does Stress Affect Blood Sugar Levels?

Stress causes the body to respond hormonally, releasing stress hormones such as “cortisol and adrenaline”. These hormones can temporarily raise blood sugar levels. Individuals with diabetes may find this especially difficult because their bodies may struggle to control glucose adequately. The body's natural "fight or flight" response might make insulin perform less efficiently, making blood sugar management challenging. These show effects on blood sugar levels.

Now, let’s learn about how stress can impact blood sugar levels in the diabetic population.

How Stress Affects Blood Sugar Levels in People with Diabetes?

Stress can affect both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in different ways.

Let’s know about it.

Stress and Type 1 Diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

The following impacts of stress on people with Type 1 diabetes include:

1. Blood Sugar Fluctuations:

Stress releases cortisol and adrenaline, two stress chemicals that can raise blood sugar levels. This is because these hormones stimulate the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream. For individuals with Type 1 diabetes who rely on insulin injections, managing stress-induced blood sugar spikes can be challenging.

2. Release of Adrenaline:

Stress can trigger the fight-or-flight response, which causes the adrenaline to be released. Blood pressure and heart rate are both raised by adrenaline, which can make it challenging to keep blood sugar levels consistent.

3. Adrenal Exhaustion:

Prolonged or ongoing stress can cause adrenal exhaustion, a condition in which the adrenal glands lose their capacity and release insufficient amounts of cortisol. As cortisol is involved in maintaining a healthy blood sugar level balance, this can affect how blood sugar is regulated. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) episodes brought on by adrenal fatigue can be harmful to those with Type 1 diabetes.

4. Impact on Diabetes Management:

Stress might make it harder to follow prescribed diabetes management regimens, such as delivering insulin, monitoring blood sugar levels, and eating a nutritious diet. Additionally influencing diabetes self-care, stress can have an adverse effect on sleep patterns and general well-being.

[ Read: How to Treat and Prevent Type 1 Diabetes? ]

Stress and Type 2 Diabetes:

Type 2 diabetes often arises as a result of a mix of genetic and lifestyle factors. People with Type 2 diabetes may have the following effects from stress:

1. Insulin Resistance:

Stress hormones, particularly cortisol, can contribute to insulin resistance, where the body's cells become less responsive to the effects of insulin. This leads to elevated blood sugar levels and may worsen the progression of Type 2 diabetes.

2. Lifestyle Factors:

Lifestyle choices that affect blood sugar regulation might be influenced by stress. For instance, people who are stressed out could indulge in unhealthy, calorie- and sugar-rich foods out of emotion. Stress can also affect sleep patterns, lower physical activity levels, and make it harder to follow medication instructions and self-care routines, all of which can result in blood sugar levels that are higher than they should be.

3. Glucose Production:

Blood sugar levels rise as a result of stress stimulating the liver to create more glucose through gluconeogenesis. This might make hyperglycemia worse in people with Type 2 diabetes.

4. Cardiovascular and Blood Pressure Health:

Stress can elevate blood pressure and increase the risk of cardiovascular complications in individuals with Type 2 diabetes. High blood pressure can further impair blood sugar control and overall health.

[ Read: Can Stress Cause High Blood Sugar Levels in Non Diabetics? ]

Now, let us know how stress management helps to improve blood sugar levels.

How to Manage Stress to Control Blood Sugar Levels in Diabetics?

It's essential for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing diabetes to be mindful of the potential impact of stress on their blood sugar levels. Effective stress management is essential for preserving normal blood sugar levels. Here are some strategies that could be useful:

1. Regular Exercise:

Physical exercise can assist lower stress levels and improve blood sugar regulation. Endorphins, which are endogenous mood enhancers, are released during exercise.

2. Stress Reduction Techniques:

Deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation are some techniques that might help you relax and reduce stress.

3. Support System:

Building a support network of family, friends, or support groups can provide emotional support and outlets for sharing feelings and experiences related to diabetes and stress.

4. Time Management:

Effective time management and prioritization can reduce feelings of being overwhelmed and improve stress management.

5. Healthy Lifestyle:

Overall well-being and stress reduction are facilitated by eating a balanced diet, obtaining enough sleep, and avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine intake.

6. Self-Care and Relaxation:

Self-care and relaxation activities, such as hobbies, reading, spending time in nature, or listening to peaceful music, can help reduce stress and advance emotional well-being.

7. Seeking Professional Assistance:

Getting advice and assistance from healthcare experts, diabetes educators, or therapists can be very helpful in managing diabetes and stress. They can assist in creating individualized plans for managing diabetes and reducing stress, including any necessary adjustments to medication.

8. Regular Monitoring:

Monitoring blood sugar levels on a regular basis and keeping track of patterns can provide significant insights into the influence of stress on diabetes treatment. This information can be used to make changes to medication, nutrition, or stress management measures.

Also watch the following video on how stress impacts blood sugar levels:

Managing stress is an important element of diabetes management for those who have diabetes. Individuals can effectively negotiate the obstacles of living with diabetes and minimize the impact of stress on their overall well-being by applying stress management techniques, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and seeking support when needed. Remember that stress management is a journey, and finding methods that work best for you may take some time. Individuals with diabetes can live happy lives while efficiently managing their disease if they have patience, perseverance, and a proactive approach to stress management.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a healthcare professional.

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