Stress and Diabetes

Stress and diabetes

Stress is an inevitable part of life, and for individuals with diabetes, understanding its impact on blood sugar levels is crucial. This post explains the connections between stress, blood sugar levels, and diabetes management, answering key questions like "Can stress cause diabetes?" and "How does stress affect glucose levels?"

Understanding Stress

Stress is a multifaceted response of your body and mind to challenging or unfamiliar situations. It can arise from short-lived events such as the anticipation of a workplace presentation or the nervousness of attending a social gathering where you know few people. Physical incidents like accidents or health issues also trigger stress responses.

Additionally, ongoing concerns about finances, relationships, or the grief of losing someone dear can lead to persistent stress. This condition manifests in various ways, impacting one's physical health, emotional well-being, and mental state.

Stress Symptoms

Stress often manifests in ways that may be difficult to notice initially, influencing both mental and emotional health, as well as physical well-being. Recognizing these symptoms is crucial for addressing and managing stress effectively.

Physical indicators of stress can include:

On the emotional and mental front, stress might lead to feelings of:

Behavioral changes also expected under stress, such as:

  • Social withdrawal from friends and family
  • Altered eating habits, either overeating or under-eating
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Nicotine use

Awareness of these symptoms is the first step towards managing stress more effectively.

Stress symptoms

Can Stress Cause Diabetes?                                      

While stress alone is not a direct cause of diabetes, it significantly influences blood sugar levels. Under stress, the body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, leading to insulin resistance. This makes it harder for insulin to effectively regulate blood sugar, which can aggravate diabetes in those already diagnosed and impact blood sugar control.                               

Moreover, the experience of living with diabetes can be a source of considerable stress, particularly in the early stages following diagnosis. The necessity of closely monitoring diet, learning new self-care routines, frequent blood sugar testing, and daily injections can be overwhelming. This ongoing management responsibility often leads to anxiety, especially concerning potential complications or the need for precision in managing the condition.       

Individuals with diabetes may also experience worry about hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels), which adds more stress. The uncertainty about when a hypoglycemic episode might occur and the challenges in managing these episodes can contribute to a state often referred to as "hypo anxiety."                

It's common for people with diabetes to sometimes feel swamped by the demands of managing their condition. This can manifest as frustration, distress, or guilt, particularly if they perceive their management efforts as suboptimal. These feelings of overwhelm are magnified during periods of high stress, making diabetes care seem more burdensome. Such emotional responses are normal and are often termed 'diabetes distress.' It's crucial for individuals experiencing these feelings to communicate with their healthcare team to receive support and guidance. If not addressed, this distress can intensify, potentially leading to burnout.

The Link Between Stress and Blood Sugar: 

Recent research has further illuminated the intricate connection between stress and blood sugar levels, particularly in individuals with type 2 diabetes. A study conducted by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine highlights the significant role of the stress hormone cortisol in this relationship. Normally, cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day, peaking in the morning and diminishing at night. However, in individuals with type 2 diabetes, these fluctuations are often more subtle, leading to consistently higher glucose levels. This altered cortisol profile, often caused by stress and depression, makes blood sugar control more challenging in diabetes patients​​.

The study highlights the importance of stress management in diabetes care. Notably, it mentions an ongoing trial investigating whether mindfulness practices can help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. This is just one of many potential strategies for reducing stress, emphasizing the need for individuals to find enjoyable and effective stress-relief activities and incorporate them into their daily routines​​.

Dr. Joshua J. Joseph, leading the study, also points out that while regular exercise, a healthy diet, and sufficient rest are well-known elements of diabetes management, stress relief is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect. Effective stress management is essential for overall health, particularly for those with type 2 diabetes. The relationship between cortisol and glucose levels is only observed in people with diabetes, indicating the unique challenges they face in managing their condition. The research team continues to explore the role of stress hormones in the prevention and development of diabetes and related cardiovascular diseases​​.

This research highlights the need for comprehensive diabetes management, including traditional methods like diet and medication and psychological factors like stress reduction. Such an approach can significantly improve the quality of life for those with diabetes.

Managing Stress for Better Diabetes Control:

Effective diabetes control extends beyond medical management to encompass comprehensive self-care, particularly during stressful times. Maintaining a balance in caring for oneself is crucial, as well as ensuring regular meals and medication adherence, even during busy or challenging periods. Striving for perfection in self-care can inadvertently contribute to stress; it's important to recognize the tendency to neglect diabetes management when under pressure.

Incorporating sufficient sleep, exercise or yoga, and relaxation into your daily routine can significantly improve stress resilience. Avoiding temptations like comfort eating, smoking, or increased alcohol consumption is vital, as these can adversely affect blood sugar levels.

Exploring new perspectives on diabetes management can also be beneficial. Participating in diabetes education courses and connecting with others facing similar challenges can provide valuable insights and support. Open communication about stressors, whether with healthcare professionals, friends, or through support groups, can offer relief and practical advice. Your healthcare team can guide you on adjusting medication or insulin in response to stress.

Remember, the source of stress need not be diabetes-related to impact your management of the condition. Seeking support to handle stress can improve overall diabetes control and well-being. Engaging in conversations about your experiences with medical professionals, family, or colleagues can start a journey toward improved stress management and diabetes care. 


Stress and diabetes are intricately linked, with stress having a significant impact on blood sugar levels and overall diabetes management. While stress does not directly cause diabetes, it can exacerbate symptoms and make managing the condition more challenging. Understanding this relationship and implementing effective stress management techniques are key to maintaining good health and blood sugar control for those living with diabetes.

Viasox: Comfort for Every Step

As we wrap up our insights on stress and diabetes, it's essential to remember the vital role of foot health in comprehensive diabetes care. Viasox is dedicated to this important aspect, offering high-quality, non-binding diabetic socks and compression socks. Designed for comfort and effective care, these socks are a valuable part of preventive foot care for those with diabetes and neuropathy. 

Contact the Viasox customer service team for more information and assistance selecting the right foot care products to support your diabetes management journey.

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