Can Stress Cause Diabetes ?

Last Updated on April 24, 2023 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

Diabetes is a consequence of many facets. It’s not compulsory that if a person is maintaining a lower carbohydrate intake, then he/she will not fall prone to diabetes in the future.

There are still numerous other factors that govern the onset of the disease. The most conspicuous reasons that have resulted in widespread of this disease is the frail lifestyle of people and unhealthy foodstuff with lack of exercise and meditation in the daily routine that altogether results in poorly maintained health.

In some cases, when a person is suffering from hypertension or high cholesterol, diabetes also comes into play ultimately because all these diseases are correlated with each other. In addition to this, prolonged stress and anxiety are also responsible for developing diabetic symptoms in people. Does it sound astonishing to you that even stress can cause diabetes? Then lend the few precious minutes of yours to know how and why this happens.

What actually is stress and how it is caused

Stress is a natural characteristic exhibited by the body in case of an emergency. Stress, as some people think, is not always harmful rather it becomes a necessity in times of danger and other challenging situations. Under such peril circumstances,  the adrenal glands of our body release a group of hormones that prepares the body for flight, fight, and fear.

Veggie causing Diabetes

These hormones increase alertness, incite pupillary dilation, raising of hairs, sweating and induce various other methods for survival during those calamitous conditions. However, long term stress affects health in many unpleasant ways. People often suffer through anxiety and mental recession for diverse problems they come across.

This can be the death of a person they were closely attached to, losing a job, career uncertainty, financial crises, intolerance, tragic accidents, family issues and so on. Many people find it difficult to deal with anxiety and depression which prompts for the occurrence of many critical diseases including diabetes.

Sometimes, natural attributes also cause physical stress. To consider, aftereffects of pregnancy and childbirth, moving to a new place with a completely different atmosphere, preparing for tough exams or interviews and, waiting for particular outcomes are familiar factors. All such entities can be responsible for developing stress by affecting the mental health of a person significantly.

Additionally, our generation is exceedingly facing stress and mental illness due to social media platforms. Of course, no one posts their failures. Everyone predicts to be happy and pleased. Thereafter, we eventually think that we are the most unlucky ones with a life full of sadness and tears. Due to similar reasons, it becomes a matter of utmost concern to impart awareness regarding the mindful approaches to tackle anxiety and depression in times of negativity and related cases.


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Correlation of stress and diabetes


Researches find that stress can considerably contribute to type 2 diabetes. Although in type 1 diabetes, both the effects can occur, that is, blood sugar can either increase or decrease depending upon genetic or hormonal makeup of a person. But with type 2 diabetes, blood sugar levels will only intensify as a result of stress.

It can also lead to depression and other mental trauma. Different possible explanations have been given to establish the relation between stress and diabetes but still many of them are unclear and conflicting. To be brief and exact, stress creates a kind of hormonal imbalances in the body that inhibit the release of insulin.

This makes glucose accumulate in the bloodstream surpassing the tolerance level. One of the most apparent reasons for hormonal imbalance being created in the body accounts for persistent stress and anxiety. People during such times get improper sleep and poor diet. Besides, they may indulge in social abuses like drug and alcohol consumption, sudden angry behavior, smoking and absence of healthy exercises.

All this greatly affects the immune responses of the body and leads to malfunctioning of the endocrine system which is responsible for the regulation of hormones throughout the body. The most important point to remember here is that insulin is a hormone too.

The hormone which plays a key role in glucose absorption by the body cells reducing it’s levels in the bloodstream. If hormonal imbalance occurs, then the activity of insulin is also affected and decreased. Immunity of body is weakened due to exceeding rates of dicarbonyls, a breakdown product of glucose metabolism which interferes with the infection-fighting peptide molecules of antibodies.

Cortisol hormone is released by the body of times of emergency situations to cope up with physical challenges that arrive. These hormones are involved mainly in carbohydrate metabolism therefore, stimulates more production of glucose in the body rising up the blood sugar levels. Abnormal hormone levels lead to obesity accompanied by an increase in the waist-hip ratio which is an important marker of being overweight. Obesity paves the threat for acquiring diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Stress also results in high cholesterol and blood pressure. Nevertheless, stress is not only the cause but also the consequence of diabetes as well. A person already diagnosed with diabetes can develop stress anxieties which furthermore increases blood sugar levels.

When to seek medication

How will you know if you are really on the verge of depression and if you need immediate medical attention?  Well, there are common symptoms you will experience that indicate your stress levels have risen beyond the safety margins. Feeling of sadness follows all the time, headache, social withdrawal, you don’t feel like talking to anyone, introverted nature turns on, mood swings become common, you may get involved in harmful practices and are likely to get irritated more often on mere things.

Sleeping patterns too get altered, you sleep either for a much longer time or there can be a lack of sleep as well. Digestive activity and immunity decline due to the dwindling of hormonal activities. The foremost thing you must do is to keep a check on your blood sugar levels. For this, make your logbook and note down the blood sugar levels after fasting for 8 hours with the help of home-based glucose monitors.

Compare your readings with the stress levels and find out of you can derive any similarity between your stress and blood sugar levels. Consult a doctor to get appropriate prescriptions. Your physician will generally perform a glycated hemoglobin test (HbA1c) to conclude the final results.

This test gives a clear overview of blood sugar levels over a period of preceding three months and therefore the results are fairly accurate. If readings come out to be somewhere between 5.8% to 6.5% and more, then you are in a danger zone. The most commonly preferred medicines are tranquilizers and antidepressants which are known to relieve all sorts of mental stress and pain to make a person relaxed with a feeling of well-being. Prozac, Savella, Paxil, and Celexa are some well known and effective antidepressants.

Stress management


Someone has very rightfully said, “life is 10% of what happens with us and 90% of how we react to it”. Whatever happens is never in our hands, no matter how worst it was, we have to keep going because life never waits for anyone but overcoming the depression and distress is definitely in our own hands. After knowing how adverse can stress prove to be for our health, learning about stress management techniques becomes substantial.

One good thing amidst all the negativities we read till now is that there are enough powerful strategies and practices which can help us to reduce stress at it’s best.

1. Exercising

Muscles get tensed and tightened due to continued stress. To cope up with such situations, relaxation exercises like deep breathing can help a lot. Swift walking or cycling for few minutes soothes up the mind shedding away all the negative vibes and burdens.

2. Yoga and meditation –

Practicing yoga and meditation on a daily basis serve you with incredible health benefits. Some most effective poses are Eagle Pose, Standing Forward Fold, Child’s pose, and thunderbolt Pose. All these freshen up your mind and recharge your body with the awesome new energy which was deterioratingly used up by stress.

3. Writing down your thoughts –

One of the simplest ways to get rid of all the anxiety and distress is writing down all your thoughts on a piece of paper. This method is scientifically proven for treating depression and uncertainty. Try this out next time you are stuck between the war of thoughts hassling in your mind.

4. Time Management –

When it comes to adapting strategies for distressing yourself, time management is definitely one of the brilliant skills one must practice. Get everything well planned in ahead to avoid last-minute pressure. Remain stick to your to-do list without any procrastination. The more you delay, the workloads keep increasing causing you unnecessary havoc at the eleventh hour.

5. Herbal supplements –

These can be natural leaf extracts and herbal teas. It is a widely known fact that chamomile tea has the enormous potential to cure insomnia, a condition in which there is a complete lack of sleep mainly occurring due to depression and related reasons. This tea influence the functioning of cortisol hormone turning sleep cycles to normal and provide solacing effects to mind and heart.

6. Therapies –

Many institutions across the world offer wonderful massage and therapy services for people fighting with mental illness. Famous center “Yoga Bharata” in Mysore, India promotes knowledge and awareness on multiple methods for stress management. They teach about calming yoga practices including Ashtanga and Vinyasa. Also, they offer a variety of mind enriching body treatments integrated with spa, healing therapies, and masterstroke.

Here, you will also receive a unique message for which you are made to sit on special chairs with heartwarming music played in the backgrounds. Every year, people come here in the broad population seeking solutions for depression, weight loss, memory improvement, and stress management.


7. Aromatherapy –

Another extensive therapy is aromatherapy. “Aroma” means smell and hence this therapy makes use of sweet-smelling aromatic oils derived naturally from plants. Clove essential oils have analgesic effects and are natural pain killers. Lavender oil can do wonders for your body during the time of a depressed mental state. It enhances relaxation and sleeping and prevents migraine symptoms.

Lemmon essential oils and sandalwood do also have remarkable properties of lessening anxiety and tension along with alleviating headaches and irritation. These oils are gently applied as massage all over the body combined with olive or almond oil, (used as carrier oils). Oils can be inhaled directly as during a steam bath but they cannot be taken orally otherwise would impair vital organs like liver and kidney.

8. Talk with your trusted ones –

When you speak your heart out, your stress is ultimately wiped out. You can always share your thoughts with your parents irrespective of any trust issues. Always discuss openly your sufferings and traumas with your nearest acquaintances or else you might end up taking the wrong road and regret it later.

9. Listening to music –

It is a psychologically proven fact that listening to music every day reduces the chances of suffering from depression to about 60%. The music should be light and comfortable as of classical tones, and not the rock songs.

10. Don’t be ashamed to visit a psychiatrist –

Due to some stereotypes which unfortunately are still active in present-day society, a person is reluctant to approach a certified psychiatrist. The people need to understand that just like we visit a physician when the body is ill, similarly we need to visit a psychiatrist when our mind is ill. There is nothing to feel helpless about it.

Concluding words

Stress can be a cause of diabetes as well as the outcome of it. Also, stress and anxiety further lead to sleeping disorders, high cholesterol, risk of cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure. There are many things that contribute to the generation of mental trauma, most of them are uncontrollable. But one must know to deal with them successfully for leading a better life.

Many researchers supports the link between stress and diabetes. When the body is under the influence of prolonged stress, then blood sugar levels elevate apparently. Visit a doctor at the earliest to avoid severe troubles. Regular exercise is the key to a stress-free life. Physical health favors mental health. From now onwards, stop taking stress all the time and let go of things that hardly matters.

There is no need to sit and bother over everything. Health has to be prioritized above all. Do not focus on what you lost, instead emphasize on what is still left with you and improve your mental and physical health for the sake of rest good things which are still there with you.

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