How Does Stress Affect Diabetes And How Can I Better Manage Stress?

Dr. Patrick Ober answers the question: 'How Does Stress Affect Diabetes?'

ByABC News
November 9, 2007, 2:20 PM

— -- Question:How Does Stress Affect Diabetes And How Can I Better Manage Stress?

Answer:One of the things that many people don't realize is the great impact that stress has on diabetes. Stress will cause the blood sugar generally to run quite a bit higher. This is related, we believe, to the fact that when we're under stress, our body puts out a lot of extra adrenaline into our bloodstream. And if anyone can think about a time when they've been worried or frightened, or otherwise injured, people get rapid heartbeat, they get shaky, they get tremors -- that's all the adrenaline fighting into the bloodstream. The other thing that that adrenaline does is that it jacks the blood sugar to a pretty high level. The idea is that should give us energy to deal with whatever harm or injury is done our way.

The body is not programmed though to take into account that some people have diabetes. So if the blood sugar's already high, here comes the stress, here comes an injury, the adrenaline shoots up, the blood sugar will shoot up even higher. So a lot of people will find out that whenever they have a very stressful event in their life, their sugar will go higher, and sometimes it takes a little time to figure that out, but there very, very clearly is a strong connection between those two things.

The harder part of the issue is how does one deal with stress, and I think there's as many answers to that as there are types of stress. I think first of all, knowledge that stress can do that is a very important thing. Certainly sitting down and thinking about, and reflecting on what are the stresses in my life -- are there any that are manageable, are there any that are correctible. Looking for some family support is very important. If there are some things out there that just seem insurmountable, going to a physician or seeking other outside help may be the right step to take.

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