Stress affects many people, and it is triggered by some big changes in life or even by small everyday events. It is important to learn how to manage it, but this could be difficult – especially if you learn that you have diabetes. Stress can result in emotional and physical strain and can include feeling worry, anxiety or tension. Some symptoms that can help you recognize stress are nervousness, a fast heartbeat, rapid breathing, stomach upset, and depression.

Stress can become a barrier to controlling your diabetes, because it can destroy your daily routine and become a threat to your health. Hormones from stress increase your blood pressure, raise your heart rate, and can cause blood sugar to rise. A high blood sugar level may make you feel tired, whilst low sugar level can make you feel nervous or upset.

Reducing stress

Since stress is a threat you need to learn how to reduce it and this is possible. Here are some tips for you:

  • Take your medication according to your treatment plan and eat healthy meals.
  • Learn and use some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.
  • Exercise. You can reduce stress through physical activities such as dancing, walking, or biking. Try to do something enjoyable.
  • Share what you are feeling with your friends and family. Talking about problems can relieve your stress and even help you work it out.
  • Remember to laugh, it helps reduce stress.
  • Find people with a situation similar to yours, with whom you can share your problems that may be alike. Join a support group.
  • Try to find professional help to discuss your troubles.

These are not the only strategies you can use to reduce stress. Ask your doctor, or your diabetes educator to get some more ideas.

From stress to depression

The link between diabetes and depression is well documented. From the initial diagnosis to everyday life with diabetes you may be affected in different ways. Some people find it easy to cope with diabetes on a daily basis and change their daily routine. For other people it is so difficult that they feel their life has been turned upside down. If it is difficult for you this does not mean that you are doing something wrong. This can happen all of a sudden, you may feel unable to cope or even feel alone. While we know a lot about the physical impact of diabetes, its emotional impact is still unknown and sometimes unrecognized. However it is evident that diabetes can have an emotional impact, especially during important events such as: diagnosis, starting insulin, or developing complications.

Many people develop their own personal way to deal with their emotions, but others continue to struggle with them. For the latter their emotions can even develop into depression.

Too much stress can lead to depression and you can recognize depression if you experience the following symptoms for more than a week:

  • Feeling sad or irritable
  • Having lost interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling worthless
  • Having a change in sleeping patterns
  • Feeling fatigued or like you have lost energy

If this happens call your doctor, they will help you treat depression.