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How Stress Affects Diabetes

Updated on June 23, 2011

Two Types Of Stress

There are two types of stress, external and internal. If you’re a diabetic, either can cause serious problems. External stress would include such categories as a demanding job or financial problems. Internal sources of stress are how we respond to them.

Anxiety, depression and metabolic disorders, including obesity, type 2 diabetes and arteriosclerosis, have all been linked to stress and have reached epidemic proportions. Diabetes alone is expected to affect over 350 million by 2030.

All body systems are engaged in stress response which was designed to handle life threatening situations. Changes related to stress include amplified anxiety concentration or generating body heat.

When your body is experiencing stress, it has to work harder to help you manage it. One way it accomplishes this is to release hormone called adrenaline. Adrenaline is what gives your body additional energy and helps you to concentrate. In addition, your body also releases glucose, or sugar. This response to stress provides extra fuel in an emergency situation. This is identified as acute stress.

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Fight Or Flight Response

It’s also sometimes referred to as the “fight or flight” response. These hormones and extra glucose would enable you to manage. In running or fighting, your body would quickly use this added energy and quickly return to normal.

However, such short situations are not the main cause of stress. Chronic stress, the kind that continues for days and weeks is. The same bodily response occurs in both chronic and acute stress. The difference being chronic stress is maintained for longer periods of time. Chronic stress is unhealthy even for non-diabetics, but it spells extra serious trouble for diabetics. Diabetics can’t adequately handle this continual release of glucose. This would be in addition to that already in the bloodstream taken in from food.

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Impossible To Avoid All Stress

It would be impossible to avoid stress completely. However, there are some situations people can’t control. Worry over things you have no control over is not the ideal way to manage diabetes. You can, however, control your response to them. You can determine what kind of attitude to have. You can also decide to remain calm in stressful situations. Keeping these things in mind can help diminish stress in a healthy fashion.

The first step is distinguishing between stresses you have some command of and those you don’t. Instead, direct concentration on areas in which you do have some control. For example, you can’t change the weather but you can decide how you will respond to it. Deliberate on improving a bad situation instead of being over wrought about it.

In today’s jet set world, many people never have an opportunity to fully recharge their physical and mental reserves. As a result, our minds and bodies stay continually tense. Practicing relaxation techniques will reduce stress levels and eventually lower glucose levels. Exercise is an excellent way to release tension thus, keeping your blood sugar within normal parameters.

Stress has a tremendous impact on diabetics. It causes glucose levels to increase. The human body isn’t designed to recognize some people have diabetes. If the blood sugar is already high and stress is added to the mix the adrenaline production increases and the blood sugar follows suit. The most difficult part is to know how to cope with a stressful situation. Knowing the dangers of stress is the first step in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


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    • bayoulady profile image

      bayoulady 7 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      Totally stressed! We had a potluck lunch after church. I blew my diet...I mean blew it to smithereens.The video did not help my stress, but the music was lovely, and your hub is interesting and motivational.