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What is the Relationship Between Stress and Diabetes?

Stress can be a silent catalyst for diabetes, as it often triggers blood sugar fluctuations. Chronic stress may lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. By understanding this connection, individuals can take proactive steps to manage stress and potentially reduce their diabetes risk. How might stress be affecting your health? Join us to uncover more.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

It is generally accepted that stress is bad for a person both mentally and physically. This is true when it comes to a range of conditions, including diabetes. When a person is under stress, hormones in his body trigger a rise in blood sugar. This is the body's way of preparing itself for extra exertion caused by stress. Unfortunately, a diabetic’s body cannot control the sugar rise as well as it should, and stress may contribute to blood sugar levels that are high enough to become dangerous.

The relationship between stress and diabetes is due, in part, to the effect of stress on hormones in the patient’s body. When a person is under stress, hormones called cortisol and epinephrine act on the body to increase energy. They do this by raising blood sugar levels temporarily. This rise in blood sugar can affect anyone who is under stress, however, not just people who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Stress affects the body's hormones, which can increase risk of diabetes.
Stress affects the body's hormones, which can increase risk of diabetes.

The relationship between stress and diabetes can be a dangerous one. While stress can cause anyone’s blood sugar to rise, it can be worse in diabetics, as their bodies are not able to effectively counteract the rise in blood sugar. Unfortunately, stress levels can rise because of a wide variety of factors, many of which may be out of the patient’s control. For example, a person may experience emotional and physical stress in response to overexertion and illness.

The link between stress and diabetes is related to how the body physiologically responds to stress.
The link between stress and diabetes is related to how the body physiologically responds to stress.

While the relationship between short-term stress and diabetes can cause temporary blood sugar increases, long-term stresses may expose a person to on-going problems with diabetes. For example, if a person is suffering from depression, his stress levels may remain consistently high. As a result, the patient may have a more difficult time managing his blood sugar. Additionally, stress can lead to other health problems, which may cause additional stress for the patient and contribute even more to blood sugar elevation.

Some of the relationship between stress and diabetes is beyond a diabetic’s control, but there are some ways that stress may interfere with things the patient can control. For example, a person who is dealing with depression may feel less motivated to be careful with his diet. He may eat things that are bad for him in an effort to feel relief from stress and depression. He may even stop exercising, which can be detrimental for controlling diabetes, because he feels less motivated or disinterested in the things he used to consider important.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a TheHealthBoard writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a TheHealthBoard writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

turquoise

@MikeMason-- That sounds very logical.

I don't think that stress caused my diabetes, but I do think that it caused my diabetes to develop faster.

I have type 2 diabetes and it's hereditary. My mom and dad both have it, so do several people on my mom's side of the family. However, they all developed diabetes in their fifties. I developed diabetes at the age of twenty-four, after two years of excessive stress where I was working three jobs and going to school at the same time.

stoneMason

I always thought that stress leads to diseases by weakening the immune system. I've read that constant stress prevents the production of hormones that keep our immune system strong and healthy. Could this be another explanation of how stress can lead to diabetes?

bear78

I didn't think that stress could cause diabetes but I'm convinced of it since seeing my neighbor's condition.

My neighbor's son died in Iraq several years ago. Several months after his death, my neighbor was hospitalized and diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

I realized then that stress can do a lot of damage, even induce diabetes.

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    • Stress affects the body's hormones, which can increase risk of diabetes.
      By: charger_v8
      Stress affects the body's hormones, which can increase risk of diabetes.
    • The link between stress and diabetes is related to how the body physiologically responds to stress.
      By: zea_lenanet
      The link between stress and diabetes is related to how the body physiologically responds to stress.