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Connection Between Diabetes and Anxiety

Connection Between Diabetes and Anxiety

  By: Editors at DiabetesIQ  |  Published: January 31, 2021   
Published: January 31, 2021   

© Marcos Calvo Mesa | Dreamstime.com

People with diabetes constantly experience a significant pressure put on them by the disease. They often get overwhelmed by the many concerns associated with daily diabetes management as well as with potential severe complications that may endanger diabetes patients’ lives should their disease management attempts not to bring the desired results.

If you are diabetic, you have to constantly manage your blood sugar levels, making sure your blood glucose doesn’t go up too high or falls down to low. This is not always a smooth process and you must be ready for many challenges along the way. You have to check your blood sugar multiple times during the day. If you take insulin, you need to carefully time your insulin doses and always make sure you have enough insulin supply. Plus, you have to maintain certain lifestyle and pay very close attention to the food you eat.

If that is not worrisome enough, thinking of possible complications only increases the level of stress even more. That is quite understandable because among those potential complications are blood vessel disease, risk of heart attack and stroke, pregnancy complications, nerve damage (neuropathy), nephropathy (kidney damage), eye damage (including blindness), sleep apnea, hypoglycemia, Alzheimer’s disease, fungal or bacterial infections, and feet damage that may lead to amputation.

Dealing with such serious stress on a daily basis can affect mental health of diabetes patients, triggering anxiety disorder in many of them. According to the latest studies, around 40% of people with diabetes experience anxiety, which is often much more than simply feeling stressed out by something. It may change the way people process their emotions, sometimes significantly affecting their lives.

There are several types of anxiety and not every one of them is considered a mental condition that requires professional attention. It is normal for us to experience anxiety when facing dangerous and harmful situations or having work, family, and health-related issues. Going through such events triggers adrenaline rush. Adrenaline is a hormone that when released into the body, activates anxious reactions known as flight or fight response. In most cases, such reactions don’t last long. But constantly coping with diabetes may cause a person to have repetitive intrusive thoughts and worries that sometimes can grow disproportionate to the original cause of stress, changing the person’s mental condition from anxiety to anxiety disorder and interfering with the person’s everyday life.

While there are several types of anxiety disorder exist, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and while each person may develop different symptoms, there is a number of common anxiety disorder symptoms that you should be on the lookout for, such as feelings on edge or panic, difficulty to think of or focus on any other things than the subject of your worries, restlessness, nervousness, weakness, lethargy, increased heart rate, feeling of dread or danger, gastrointestinal and digestive issues, muscle twitching, and an intrusive desire to avoid the things causing your anxiety.

So if you have diabetes and you believe that you are experiencing some of those symptoms, you should see your doctor to make proper diagnosis. If necessary, your doctor will refer you to a specialist such as a psychologist or psychiatrist to help you get back on track.

Living with diabetes is not easy. Just hearing your diagnosis for the first time can be a serious stress, let alone going through what it takes to manage the disease properly. All that stress can be too much for some people, opening the door to anxiety. If there is a reason for you to think that you are getting anxious more than you should, share your concerns with your diabetes doctor or primary care physician for them to help you find the right therapist to eliminate your anxiety triggered by diabetes, which in its turn will help you keeping your diabetes under control.


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