Can Stress Cause Diabetes?

Can stress cause diabetes is a viable question that is being closely examined by endocrinologists and neurobiologists. Stress immediately affects the body by throwing it into a “fight-or-flight” response, resulting in hormonal increases that cause large amounts of stored energy, specifically fat and glucose-o be made available to energy-hungry cells.

Researchers understand the mechanisms correlating stress with disease, and their research regarding diabetics and their response to stress indicate the “fight-or-flight” response exhibited by people at risk for developing diabetes or already suffering from diabetes does not function properly. Insulin, which is necessary to facilitate absorption of energy by cells, inhibits this vital process, which aggravates blood sugar levels by allowing excess glucose to accumulate in the bloodstream.

Effects of Chronic Stress

When under any kind of perceived danger, whether it is mental or physical, the human body releases certain neurotransmitters, which prepares the body to defend itself. Growth hormone, cortisol, norepinephrine and adrenaline are some of the more important hormones released when someone is experiencing a stressful situation. Events, which can produce high levels of stress hormones, vary from having surgery to suffering depressive episodes to welcoming a new grandchild.

The answer to can stress cause diabetes lies in the similarity of diabetic symptoms and symptoms resulting from high levels of stress hormones and factors promoting the risk of developing diabetes:

  • High blood pressure
  • Hypertension directly causes by stress
  • Unnaturally heightened metabolism
  • Inability to access stored energy resulting in abnormally high glucose levels
  • A compromised immune system unable to resist diseases
  • Reduced pancreatic processes
  • Weight gain induced by unused energy converted into fat and cholesterol as well as eating more foods high in sugar

For many people suffering from constant stress, eating “comfort foods” or foods that elevate serotonin and endorphins often makes them makes them feel better, but only temporarily. Once sugar levels decrease in the body, the need to consume more high-sugar, high-fat foods overwhelms the stressed-out individual, compelling them to reach for another “fix”, much in the same way a drug addict needs drugs to feel good. As a result, insulin resistance and weight gain is enhanced, directly contributing to a positive can stress cause diabetes answer.

Ten Tips for Reducing Stress

Reducing StressIf you are at risk for developing diabetes due to living in chronically stressful conditions or already have diabetes and are experiencing stress, you can integrate methods of stress reduction into your life which effectively alleviates excessive hormonal levels disturbing optimal regulation of blood glucose levels. To reduce stress, you can:

  • Begin participating in a regular exercise program. For motivational purposes, join a gym which provides exercise classes or ask friends to start taking daily walks with you.
  • Volunteer your services at a nursing home, charity organization or other establishment needing people to help others who are less fortunate. Research indicates that volunteering promotes release of the same “feel good” endorphins found in those who perform moderate to vigorous exercise.
  • Learn something new, such as a new language, hobby, painting or other creative diversion. When bothered by mental stress, focusing on something other than your own thoughts is highly effective in reducing stress.
  • Talking helps – Find a friendly, listening ear and talk. You don’t have to talk to a professional counselor or clergy, friends and family often make the best listeners and provide a way for you to release some stress.
  • Taking time out to participate in meditation or yoga classes.
  • Play with your children or grandchildren. Research shows that to avoid stress, fatigue and depression you need to relax and spend some time having fun.
  • Reversing the answer to can stress cause diabetes means eliminating stressful people from your life. This may be the most difficult strategy to adopt when de-stressing your life but sometimes it is necessary, especially when certain people are causing undue chaos and strife, which is detrimentally affecting your health.
  • Avoid caffeine products.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Decrease working hours if possible.

Unfortunately, the answer to the question can stress cause diabetes is that stress definitely contributes to the complications of diabetes. However, people are fully capable of alleviating the harmful affects of stress as well as avoiding the struggle with potentially crippling symptoms and consequences of a life-long diabetic condition.


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