Are stress and blood sugar linked?

Stress does not cause diabetes, but it can affect your blood glucose levels and how you manage your condition. Having to manage your diabetes on top of the ups and downs of life can cause stress. It is not always easy to live with and it can also seem more difficult when many people do not understand it. You can't avoid stressful situations, but there are things you can do to make it easier to cope. This will help you to stop stress building up and affecting your emotional health.

What is stress?

Stress is the way your body and mind react to new or difficult situations. Indeed, it can be something short-term, such as worrying about a presentation you have to give at work the next day or going to a party where you don't know many people at the weekend. It could also be something physical, such as an accident or illness. You may also have less immediate but more constant worries about things like money, a relationship or the loss of a loved one. So stress can affect you physically, emotionally and mentally. For more information, visit the Pep2Dia website.

How stress can affect diabetes

If you feel stressed, your body releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. This should give you a boost of energy for a 'fight or flight' response. But these hormones actually make it harder for insulin to work properly, which is called insulin resistance. Because energy can't get into your cells, your blood sugar levels rise. If your blood sugar level is too high, this is called hyperglycaemia. But if the stress doesn't go away, it can keep your blood sugar levels high and put you at increased risk of diabetes complications. It can also affect your mood and the way you look after yourself, which can start to affect your emotional health.

The stress of diabetes

Diabetes often causes stress, especially in the early days when you are first diagnosed. Having to be very careful about what you eat and having lots of new things to learn and remember can be difficult. It may mean that you now have to check your blood sugar often or give yourself injections every day. Worrying about what the results will say or being anxious about needles can be very stressful.
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