Stress is an unavoidable part of life. If we didn’t know that before 2020, the experiences and challenges of the past year certainly made it clear. But too much stress and the inability to manage and reduce it can lead to much more severe consequences than a few moments of anxiety or worry.
A whole range of health problems, from heart disease to hair loss, have been linked to chronic stress. Diabetes is not immune from the effects of stress, and the condition can be both a cause and consequence of stress.
How Stress Can Lead To Diabetes
Recent studies suggest that people with depression and anxiety have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who don’t live with such mental health conditions. A 2010 review of research on the link between stress and diabetes found support for the conclusion that, along with depression, “general emotional stress and anxiety, sleeping problems, anger, and hostility are associated with an increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes.”
The researchers found that various stressors can increase a person’s risk of developing diabetes, including:
- stressful events or traumatic life experiences
- general emotional stress
- anger and hostility
- work-related stress
- Troubled sleep
Lifestyle and Hormonal Factors
The reasons why stress can increase the risk of diabetes relate to how stress impacts both our lifestyle choices as well as our bodies’ biological and chemical reactions to stress.
An inability to find healthy and productive ways to alleviate stress can lead people to turn to bad habits and engage in other behaviors that can increase the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. These negative habits can include:
- poor diet
- eating too much
- not exercising
- excessive alcohol consumption
Stress can also impact the body’s hormone levels, which can disrupt how well insulin works.
Stress can activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system which can cause hormonal disruptions, such as higher cortisol levels. Cortisol, also called the stress hormone, can stimulate glucose production in the body and raise a person’s blood sugar levels.
Chronic stress may also affect the body’s immune system, with one study suggesting that one particular immune system response to chronic stress is similar to one that is involved in the development of type 2 diabetes.
How To Manage Stress
There is no one “right” way to manage stress, though there are plenty of bad ones. The key is finding an effective way to address stress that doesn’t create problems of its own. Every person is different, so figure out what works best for you, whether it is hanging out with friends, reading a good book, meditating, yoga, or walking your dog.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring Can Take The Stress Out of Checking Your Blood Sugar
While stress can increase the risk of diabetes, diabetes itself can be a source of stress. This includes worry and anxiety about blood sugar levels throughout the day. Fortunately, a new way of monitoring blood glucose levels can make the process much less taxing and stressful.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is an alternative to disruptive and inconvenient finger-pricking that has long been the primary method of checking blood sugar. CGM is a proven, approved, and easy-to-use transceiver device that provides real-time glucose readings every few minutes through a tiny sensor underneath the skin. This sensor measures your interstitial glucose level and then sends the data to a pager-like monitor or an app on your smartphone. An alarm will sound if your blood sugar becomes too high or too low.
With easy-to-use features that can help each person proactively record and track glucose levels—as well as provide valuable insights on data that helps manage exercise, meals, and daily health status—CGM is a game-changer – and stress-reducer – for individuals with diabetes.
Ask your doctor about CGM and contact us today to see if you qualify for CGM and access our guide to continuous glucose monitoring.