Diabetes and Stress: Know the Facts – Body Health World


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.

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 increase 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.

Keeping track of additional information, such as the date and what you were doing when stressed, may help you determine specific triggers.

For example, do you always experience stress on Monday mornings? If so, you know how to take special steps on Monday mornings to lower your stress and keep your glucose in check.

You can determine if this is happening to you by capturing your stress and glucose levels.

Learn more about recognizing the causes of stress here.

After rating your stress, you should check your glucose levels. Continue doing this for the next couple of weeks. Before long, you may see a pattern emerge.

If you notice that your glucose is regularly high, your mental stress is likely negatively affecting your blood sugar.

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:

Stress may also cause you to feel:

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

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

Discover 15 simple ways to reduce stress.

If you’re feeling stressed about your condition, know that you aren’t alone. You can connect with people online or in your community for solidarity and support.

Online support groups

Online support groups can offer helpful tips and a strong community to help you cope. For example, Diabetic Connect is an online resource that seeks to improve your quality of life. It provides articles, recipes, and informative videos.

In-person support groups

For women with diabetes, Diabetes Sisters offers nationwide meetups. It offers in-person groups throughout the country.

Defeat Diabetes Foundation lists peer support groups in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. You even search the directory and submit a listing of your own. The American Diabetes Association also offers local offices focused on education and community outreach.


You may feel more comfortable talking with a professional about your stress. A therapist can provide coping mechanisms tailored to your situation and give you a safe environment to talk. They may also provide medical advice that online or in-person support groups can’t offer.

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.

Read this article in Spanish.


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