Stressing Out About Diabetes

No matter what kind of lifestyle you lead, you’re bound to experience stress from time to time. Stress can be hard on everyone, but it can especially take a toll on those with diabetes.

Hitting a Flat Note

This topic was recently examined by researchers from The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. For their study, the authors documented how cortisol levels in diabetes sufferers changed following exposure to stress. Each subject had been diagnosed with the type 2 form of this disease. 

So why did the authors direct their focus towards cortisol? In healthy individuals, the levels of this hormone are supposed to fluctuate throughout the day. Amongst the study’s diabetic subjects, however, constant stress caused cortisol levels to remain at a flat level during the observation period. 

It bears mentioning that stress and cortisol go hand-in-hand; when the body finds itself in tense situations, it releases cortisol into the bloodstream as a response. While elevated cortisol levels can be useful for handling “fight-or-flight” situations, chronically high cortisol levels due to stress can lead to several serious medical problems, such as anxiety, depression, weight gain and heart disease.

Time to Chill Out?

For their follow-up project, the study authors now plan to measure the impact of stress-relieving techniques on blood sugar readings. One potential option could be mindful meditation, a group mental training exercises in which practitioners seek to let go of anxious thoughts and negative feelings. 

Senior study author Dr. Joshua Joseph further highlighted the link between stress and diabetes, along with the need for diabetics to keep their levels of personal stress in check. “I can tell you that from clinically the patients I see with diabetes, that among those patients who have high levels of stress and high levels of depression, especially during those times when they’re having a difficult time controlling that, that their blood sugar numbers do go up,” stated Joseph. “Anyone with diabetes, my recommendation would be to control levels of stress and to control depression. That can be through various lifestyle behaviors that we all do, but that can also be through medications for some individuals.”

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