How Stress Affects Diabetes
In people who have diabetes, the fight-or-flight response does not work well. Insulin is not always able to let the extra energy into the cells, so glucose piles up in the blood.
Many sources of stress are long-term threats. For example, it can take many months to recover from surgery. Stress hormones that are designed to deal with short-term danger stay turned on for a long time. As a result, long-term stress can cause long-term high blood glucose levels.
Many long-term sources of stress are mental. Your mind sometimes reacts to a harmless event as if it were a real threat. Like physical stress, mental stress can be short term: from taking a test to getting stuck in a traffic jam. It can also be long term: from working for a demanding boss to taking care of an aging parent. With mental stress, the body pumps out hormones to no avail. Neither fighting nor fleeing is any help when the “enemy” is your own mind.
In people with diabetes, stress can alter blood glucose levels in two ways:
- People under stress may not take good care of themselves. They may drink more alcohol or exercise less. They may forget, or not have time, to check their glucose levels or plan good meals.
- Stress hormones may also alter blood glucose levels directly.
Read the full article