The Link Between Anxiety And Glucose Levels
Stress can affect your blood sugars, though research tends to be mixed as to how. In some people, it appears to raise blood glucose levels, while in others it appears to lower them.
At least one has shown there may also be an association between glycemic control and mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, particularly for men.
However, another study found that general anxiety didn’t affect glycemic control, but diabetes-specific emotional stress did.
Other has found that people with type 1 diabetes seem to be “more susceptible to physical harm from stress” while those with type 2 diabetes weren’t. One’s personality also seems to determine the effect to some extent as well.
What To Do If You Have A Blood Sugar Spike
For those with diabetes, having a blood sugar spike can be dangerous because too much sugar in the blood passes into the urine. This triggers the body to filter out the fluid, which could lead to dehydration or a diabetic coma.
In the event that blood sugar levels spike because of stressors that cannot be managed, it’s vital to make managing your blood glucose a priority. You can do this by focusing on things you can control, such as your diet and exercise, checking your blood sugar regularly, and taking your medications as instructed by your physician.
What Is An Anxiety Disorder
An anxiety disorder is a psychological condition characterised by persistent and excessive anxiety and worry. This is also known as clinical anxiety. The worry is accompanied by a variety of symptoms:
In contrast to non-clinical anxiety, which is a normal response to a perceived threat or stressful situation, an anxiety disorder is problematic as it affects day-to-day functioning and causes significant distress. It cannot be attributed to the effects of a substance , a medical condition , or another mental health problem .
Anxiety disorders can take many forms, including:
- generalised anxiety disorder: intense excessive and daily worries about multiple situations
- social anxiety disorder: intense excessive fear of being scrutinised by other people, resulting in avoidance of social situations
- panic disorder: recurrent, unpredictable, and severe panic attacks
- specific phobia: intense irrational fear of specific everyday objects or situations .
- restlessness or feeling ‘on edge’
- being easily fatigued
- difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- muscle tension
- sleep disturbance
A subthreshold anxiety disorder is characterised by the presence of elevated anxiety symptoms that do not meet the full diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder. Although less severe, such symptoms are typically persistent, can also cause significant burden and impairment, and deserve attention in clinical practice.
Pregnant Women With Diabetes At A Higher Risk For Anxiety
The constant pressure during to achieve nearly perfect blood sugar levels can be overwhelming.
Anxiety isn’t just likely, it should be expected, as supported by this 2016 study in Brazil. While it is one of the most incredible challenges a woman could undertake, managing diabetes during pregnancy can be incredibly stressful.
Because there are even more variables affecting blood sugar levels during pregnancy, tighter management requires constant blood sugar checks and adjustments in insulin doses, along with the pressure of knowing that your blood sugar impacts your baby’s wellbeing minute-by-minute.
The study did conclude, however, that the anxiety was quite generalized around the entire pregnancy rather than being related to a particular blood sugar level at any given time.
Type 1 Diabetes And Anxiety
Type 1 diabetes, which relies on the constant micromanagement of insulin, can lead to the development of anxiety due to a generalized fear of complications, “imperfect” blood sugar levels, mild or severe low blood sugars, and the constant effort for control.
In life with type 1 diabetes, the more variables a patient is able to control, the more he or she is presumably able to manage their blood sugar levels. Food, activity, hormones, stress, , blood sugar fluctuations during work or school or parenting, and even something as simple as grocery shopping, all have a major and immediate impact on blood sugar levels.
When one or many of these variables are out of one’s control — which is likely often — anxiety can easily develop.
Natural Treatment For High Blood Pressure
Preventing high blood pressure is key, however, there are natural treatment options available that could help to reduce your blood pressure.
? Managing stress with meditation or deep-breathing exercises? Quit smoking? Eating more food rich in calcium and magnesium
Eating foods rich in potassium can help
In Addition to the options listed above, there are several natural supplements that may also help to lower blood pressure or prevent it from elevating, to begin with.
How To Cope With Anxiety
When it comes to coping with anxiety, it’s important to find effective ways to deal with stress. For some, a regular meditation practice helps with stress management.
According to the Mayo Clinic, finding ways to better manage your time, practicing good sleep , eating balanced meals, and exercising are other ways to find relief, too. “You want to calm the body down so it can better deal with stress day to day,” Bereolos says.
Also, a diabetes or anxiety support group can help you cope with anxiety, especially if you think you’re the only one experiencing it. “It can help to rationalize your thinking, which in essence helps to treat the anxiety and depression going on,” Bereolos says.
Why Low Blood Sugar Makes You Anxious
When your blood sugar drops, your body tries to bring it up. It pumps out , a â€œfight or flightâ€? hormone that, among other things, tells your to make more glucose .
Adrenaline also makes your race and your palms sweat. And it can make you feel cranky and anxious. These are warning signs that your blood sugar is too low. If it stays there, your body puts out more hormones, including one called , also known as “the hormone,” partially because it helps control things like your mood and fear.
Put adrenaline and cortisol together, and you’ve got a recipe for .
Causes Of Anxiety For People With Diabetes
People with diabetes may become anxious over a variety of things. These can include monitoring their glucose levels, weight, and diet.
They may also worry about short-term health complications, such as , as well as long-term effects. People with diabetes are at higher risk for certain health complications, such as heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. Knowing this can lead to further anxiety.
But keep in mind that the information can also be empowering if it leads to preventative measures and treatments. Learn about other ways one woman with anxiety feels empowered.
There is also some evidence that anxiety may play a role in causing diabetes. One found that symptoms of anxiety and depression are significant risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar Vs Symptoms Of Anxiety
The symptoms of hypoglycemia and anxiety are extremely similar, making it easy for someone to mistake a hypoglycemic episode for a panic attack or anxiety disorder. Low blood sugar puts the physical body under significant stress, creating symptoms similar to anxiety. It is important to be able to distinguish low blood sugar from anxiety so that your symptoms can be treated in a timely manner. Severe hypoglycemia can result in accidents, injuries, coma or even death.
The main symptoms shared by hypoglycemia and anxiety are:
- Difficulty focusing or thinking clearly
- Irritability or feeling on edge
Symptoms exclusive to anxiety include:
- Digestive problems, such as gas, constipation, or diarrhea
- Feelings of danger, panic, or dread
- Nervousness, restlessness, or being tense
- Obsessing about certain ideas
- Performing certain behaviors over and over again
- Rapid breathing or hyperventilation
Symptoms of low blood sugar include:
- Cold/clammy skin
- Sudden nervousness
- Unexplained fatigue
When hypoglycemia becomes severe , people can also experience:
- Behavioral changes
- Blurry or double vision
- Clumsy movements, as if intoxicated
- Loss of consciousness or coma
Anxiety Over Diabetes Management
Managing your blood sugar and other aspects of your health when you have diabetes can be time consuming and stressful, and also contribute to anxiety.
For people with diabetes, monitoring blood sugar usually involves a home finger prick test. Fear of needles, as well as fear of the results, may lead to anxiety.
One study found that 33% of people with diabetes experience anxiety specific to the finger prick method of glucose testing. Thirty percent of people with diabetes in this same study had generalized anxiety related to their diabetes management.
Other areas of diabetes management may also lead to stress and anxiety. This includes monitoring potential symptoms of vision loss , nerve damage , slow-healing wounds on the feet or extremities, kidney damage, and more.
A Striking Resemblance Exists Between Hypoglycemia And Anxiety Attacks
Anxiety and panic attack symptoms mimic those of hypoglycemia: A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense fear or discomfort that strikes repeatedly without warning, while hypoglycemia is a medical event in which blood sugar falls below normal. Although the two are vastly different phenomena, the signs and symptoms of each resemble one another.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a panic attack reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms:
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feelings of choking
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
- Chills or heat sensations
- Nightmares or crying out during sleep
What’s frightening is that hypoglycemia can be a dangerous, even life-threatening condition if not promptly treated. And unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to detect hypoglycemia without using a glucometer. So if suspicious if either, implement the “15-15” rule to help treat hypoglycemia and prevent such serious consequences.
The 15-15 Rule to Treat Hypoglycemia
Consume 15 grams of carbohydrate to raise your blood glucose and check it after 15 minutes. If it’s still below 70 mg/dL, have another 15 gram serving. The following are examples of 15 grams of carb:
Preventing Low Blood Sugar
For someone with diabetes, the best way to prevent low blood sugar is to check your blood sugar often. You can check your blood sugar with a continuous glucose monitor or glucometer. Discuss with your doctor how often you should be checking your blood sugar.
Your doctor might suggest checking before and after meals, before and after exercising, when changing your routine or schedule, when traveling across time zones, and more. By checking your blood sugar, you can identify when your sugar is falling and enact steps to normalize your levels.
For people both with and without diabetes, another tried-and-true way to prevent low blood sugar is to eat regular meals. Avoid skipping meals or fasting. When you do eat, research indicates that eating a diet low in refined carbohydrates, and inclusive of omega-3 fats and adequate protein, can help regulate blood sugar and lower anxiety levels.
Keeping Your Blood Sugar Under Control During Anxiety: Raleigh Medical Group Can Help
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How Does Anxiety Affect Blood Sugar Levels
You might think that spikes in blood sugar levels are only problems for those with diabetes, since they have problems with insulin secretion or use, although you might be surprised to find out that huge emotional stress that leads to anxiety can be the cause of blood sugar spike in non-diabetic population. The good news is, the spike is temporary most of the time, caused by overproduction of stress hormones and not by any kind of chronic metabolic abnormality.
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of studies researching this topic, although the mechanism behind heightened blood sugar levels in response to stress is well-understood.
How Can I Avoid Anxiety
Appropriate stress management may be key to avoiding conditions such as anxiety. Relaxation techniques include:
- Breathing exercises
Relaxation methods such as the ones listed above are all be effective in relieving stress. Mindfulness based training in combination with diabetes management are proving an invaluable approach to aid the process of acceptance, while alleviating anxiety and stress.
Research conducted at the psychology department at Stanford University used brain imaging technologies to examine the effect of mindfulness training on social anxiety. They reported that participants who completed the mindfulness course showed reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression and demonstrated an enhanced self-esteem.
Mindfulness practices help to adjust the relationship one has with their panic and anxiety with acceptance, compassion and awareness.
This methodology has been shown to be significantly more effective in the long term. It has been scientifically proven to enhance quality of life and allow the practitioner to develop a disassociation with panic and anxiety, meaning they no longer need these states to define who they are or how they live their lives.
How To Lower High Blood Sugar
With careful monitoring and control of your blood sugar levels, you can live a healthy life. There are a number of ways you can lower and prevent high blood sugar.
?Learn to count carbohydrates: When you count carbs or keep track of what you are eating, you can control your blood sugar more efficiently. Set a maximum amount you can have each day for your meal,s and keep track to make sure you do not go past the limit. This helps to stabilize blood sugar and prevent dangerous spikes. Portion control is important too, so make sure your meals are not too large, as these can cause temporary spikes.
?Try meal planning: To help keep track of your carbohydrate intake, start planning your meals. Based on the amount of carbohydrates you can have, plan meals accordingly, so you do not risk going above the set limit. When your meals are planned, you also avoid eating out or getting convenience food, which contains more sugar and fat, and will negatively affect your blood sugar.
?Start a weight loss program: Obesity contributes to diabetes and impairs your body’s ability to process energy efficiently. Losing weight helps your body to use insulin more efficiently, and it reduces fat storage, which can trigger inflammation in the body.
Tests Of Information Processing
The results of these tests are summarized in . During acute hyperglycemia, performance was significantly impaired in the Trail Making B, Digit Symbol, and Four-Choice Reaction Time tests. Performance in the Simple Reaction Time test was not significantly impaired during hyperglycemia. The coefficient of variation for the Simple and Four-Choice Reaction Time tests was not significantly different between the euglycemia and hyperglycemia conditions.
Option 2: Use A Brief Questionnaire
Alternatively, you can use a brief questionnaire to ask about elevated anxiety symptoms in a systematic way. Collectively, the following two questions are referred to as the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Two questionnaire. They are the core symptoms required for a diagnosis of generalised anxiety disorder.
You can find the GAD-2 on the full PDF version of this guide
Instead of administering this as a questionnaire, you could integrate these questions into your conversation.
Sum the responses to the two questions to form a total score. A total score of 3 or more indicates elevated anxiety symptoms, further assessment is warranted.
At this stage, it is advisable to ask whether they have a current diagnosis of an anxiety disorder and, if so, whether and how it is being treated.
If the total score is 3 or more, and the person is not currently receiving treatment for an anxiety disorder, you might say something like, ‘You seem to be experiencing some anxiety symptoms, which can be a normal reaction to . There are several effective treatment options for anxiety, but first we need to find out more about your symptoms. So, I’d like to ask you some more questions, if that’s okay with you’.
You may then decide to assess for an anxiety disorder using a more comprehensive questionnaire.
If the total score is less than 3 but you suspect a problem, consider whether the person may be experiencing , , or another mental health problem.
Your Diet And Anxiety
Many health professionals have said that contemporary Western diets are often overloaded with unhealthy sugars and fats. But anxiety disorders are not likely to be caused by diet alone. Rather, it is believed that a poor diet can trigger or make anxiety symptoms worse by changing the body’s functioning and making it harder for the body and mind to cope with stress.
That’s why those that genuinely want to fight their anxiety may need to look beyond mere dietary changes in order to effectively reduce their anxiety.
What Happens In Your Body When You Get Stressed
Stress hormones have a big role to play.
When you’re experiencing physical or emotional stress, hormones are released that increase your blood sugar. Cortisol and adrenaline are other primary hormones involved.
This is a perfectly natural response. For example, if you’re being chased by a barking dog or you’re in a dangerous situation, you need these hormones to prepare your body for a “fight or flight” situation.
But when you’re stressed, your body releases these hormones, even if there isn’t a major physical threat involved.
The result? Higher blood pressure, increased heart rate and a rise in blood sugar.
The problem becomes more complicated.
If you’re consistently under stress, your hormones and sugar will continue to surge.
Over time, this can put you at risk for:
- Heart disease
This is one reason why it’s so important to treat your stress and anxiety.
Gadgets That Make Life With Diabetic Macular Edema Easier
Interestingly, research suggests anxiety may be tied to type 2 diabetes risk. According to a September 2016 study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, which measured levels of blood glucose and IL-6, a protein in the body that stimulates immune response and healing, found that people with with low inhibition — or attention control — were more likely to have type 2 diabetes.
Low Blood Sugar Mimics Anxiety
The mutual symptoms of low blood sugar and anxiety are not coincidental. There is a shared physiological base of the two conditions.
When low blood sugar occurs, the body attempts to normalize levels by bringing blood glucose up. It does this through epinephrine excretion, which triggers glucose production in the liver.
Increased adrenaline levels, however, trigger a “fight or flight” response in the body. This same biochemical process is also linked to anxiety.
A longer-term or chronic low blood sugar state can also cause the body to produce cortisol, which is the “stress hormone.” Cortisol helps tissues in the body be less reactive to insulin, which helps increase glucose circulation in the bloodstream.
While this may help raise and normalize blood sugar levels, higher cortisol levels are also linked to anxiety. For this reason, many of the warning signs and symptoms of low blood sugar are shared with that of anxiety.
Anxiety Disorders In People With Diabetes
Diabetes is associated with both elevated anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders. There is evidence of a bi-directional association between anxiety and diabetes. Therefore, it is possible that people with elevated anxiety symptoms or an anxiety disorder may be at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, while having Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes may place people at increased risk of developing elevated anxiety symptoms or an anxiety disorder.
Overall, the prevalence of elevated anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders in people with diabetes is within the range of general population estimates. Further research is needed regarding the specific types of anxiety disorders associated with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Many factors may contribute to the development of elevated anxiety symptoms or an anxiety disorder. These include: personal or family history, personality, stressful life circumstances, substance use, and physical illness. Diabetes may be completely unrelated for some people, while for others, it may be a contributing factor. As various factors can contribute, the exact cause will be different for every person.
In people with diabetes, elevated anxiety symptoms are associated with adverse medical and psychological outcomes, including:
People with a co-existing anxiety disorder and depressive symptoms are likely to experience greater emotional impairment and take longer to recover.
Anxiety Over Low Blood Sugar
A low blood sugar episode, which can include anything from confusion and shakiness to nausea, loss of consciousness, and seizures, can be very scary. It therefore makes sense that some people with diabetes also experience anxiety related to possibly having a low blood sugar episode—and not just as a physiological reaction to low blood sugar levels.
This anxiety is so common that the term “fear of hypoglycemia” is commonly used among physicians and researchers. Research has found that a history of experiencing mild hypoglycemia increases FoH in people who have diabetes.
What Are The Causes Of Anxiety
Being diagnosed with diabetes can instigate anxiety in a number of ways.
People with diabetes may potentially be anxious about how their condition will be perceived by others including friends, family and work colleagues.
Anxiety may also arise over what could happen if they were experience a hypo while driving or whilst looking after their children.
Excessive worrying can lead to social anxiety.
Symptoms of social anxiety include
- Being fearful of leaving the house or place of comfort
- Anxiety of being around people, known or strangers
- Avoidance of social interaction
Treating Diabetes And Mental Confusion Irrational Behavior
Just as it is for other effects of diabetes, prevention is the primary way to manage the behavioral effects of diabetes. Following the plan set by your doctor and, ideally, the diabetes care team is important. Regular blood sugar monitoring, proper nutrition, exercise, healthy weight maintenance, and stress management are crucial in controlling blood sugar levels. This, in turn, has a positive effect on the brain.
How To Prevent Anxiety Over Hypoglycemia
Most likely, if you haven’t already been diagnosed with hypoglycemia, you’re simply experiencing anxiety. It’s perfectly normal to feel as though your anxiety symptoms must be the result of a health problem, and not anxiety, since in many cases anxiety mimics serious health concerns.
Anxiety is more common than many of the health disorders it mimics and unfortunately people with anxiety commonly experiencing health anxiety which may cause further concern over the symptoms they experience.
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Your Diabetes Health Care Team
Your diabetes health care team is there to help you with all aspects of your diabetes, including how you feel about it. Share your feelings with them if you feel comfortable to so do—they will give you non-judgemental support and advice. You may want to talk with your:
- counsellor or psychologist.
Bring this fact sheet to your appointment to help get the conversation started. You will probably feel relieved after sharing your feelings, and it will help your health professional to understand how you are feeling.
Together, you can make plans to manage your anxiety.
Dopamine And The Glucose Effect
Glucose, or blood sugar, is the simplest of the carbohydrates. It is also essential for human survival. Glucose acts as the primary source of energy for every cell in the body, and the brain depends on it. An even supply of glucose keeps the brain functioning in a balanced way.
However, consuming too much added sugar may lead to increased irritability and peaks and drops in energy levels. Although the initial intake of sugar may feel positive, it will cause blood glucose levels to drop. It is this that affects the mind and body so dramatically.
For some people, however, sugar can be incredibly addictive. When a person consumes sugar, the mesolimbic dopamine system in the brain offers a reward, thereby increasing mood. The dopamine system starts working when feelings of pleasure approach.
Because these are added sugars, however, they are not beneficial to the body in any way. A high intake of these will mean chemical changes in the body. These occur to prevent overstimulation, so the body may crave more sugar on future occasions to achieve the same high mood.