How Stress Affects Diabetes and How to Decrease It?


When under stress, the body releases hormones that can cause blood glucose levels to increase. This may cause adverse symptoms in people with diabetes, but management is possible. If you’re experiencing stress or feeling threatened, your body reacts. This is called the fight-or-flight response.

During this response, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol into your bloodstream, and your respiratory rates increase. This can increase blood glucose levels if the body cannot adequately process it. Constant stress from long-term problems with blood glucose can also wear you down mentally and physically. This may make managing your diabetes difficult.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to simply as diabetes, is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. The hormone insulin moves sugar from the blood into your cells to be stored or used for energy. With diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it does make.

Untreated high blood sugar from diabetes can damage your nerves, eyes, kidneys, and other organs. But educating yourself about diabetes and taking steps to prevent or manage it can help you protect your health.

Types of Diabetes:

There are a few different types of diabetes:

  • Type 1: Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas, where insulin is made. It’s unclear what causes this attack.
  • Type 2: Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body becomes resistant to insulin, and sugar builds up in your blood. It’s the most common type—about 90% to 95%Trusted Source of people living with diabetes have type 2.
  • Gestational: Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar during pregnancy. Insulin-blocking hormones produced by the placenta cause this type of diabetes.

A rare condition called diabetes insipidus is not related to diabetes mellitus, although it has a similar name. It’s a different condition in which your kidneys remove too much fluid from your body.

Each type of diabetes has unique symptoms, causes, and treatments.

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 body’s physical response.

When people with type 2 diabetes are under mental stress, they generally experience an increaseTrusted Source 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 you’re under physical stress, your blood sugar can also increase. This can happen due to sickness or injury. This can affect people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

What are the symptoms of stress?

Sometimes, the symptoms of stress are subtle, and you may not notice them. Stress can affect your mental and emotional well-being and impact your physical health. Recognizing the symptoms can help you identify stress and take steps to manage it.

Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain or tension
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • General feelings of illness
  • Fatigue

Stress may also cause you to feel:

  • Unmotivated
  • Irritable
  • Depressed
  • Restless
  • Anxious

It’s also common for stressed people to engage in behavior that may be out of character, including:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Acting out in anger
  • Drinking alcohol to excess
  • Using tobacco

How to reduce your stress levels?

It’s possible to lessen or limit the stressors in your life. Here are a few things you can do to manage the effects of different forms of stress.

  • Exercise regularly
  • Practice relaxing activities such as yoga or tai chi
  • Practice mindfulness techniques such as meditation
  • Avoid known stressors, such as high-stress social situations
  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Spend time with loved ones

What you can do now?

Although diabetes can present a different set of challenges, it’s possible to manage it effectively and lead a happy, healthy lifestyle. You can add short, meditative sessions or small workouts to your daily routine. You can also look into support groups and find one that best suits your personality and lifestyle needs. Being proactive can help ease the tension in your life.


Physical and mental stress can trigger the release of adrenaline and cortisol into the blood. These hormones can cause blood glucose levels to rise.

Unexpected peaks in blood glucose levels may negatively impact a person’s diabetes management and lead to adverse symptoms. But knowing stress triggers and practicing stress-reduction techniques may help people manage these occurrences.

Source: How It Affects Diabetes and How to Decrease It



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