Ask an Expert FAQs — Your Coping & Emotional Issues Questions Answered

Q: Can stress affect my blood glucose level?

A: YES. YES. YES. Generally, stress, be it emotional stress, the stress of pain or the stress of illness, will cause your blood sugar to rise. Often dramatically. This is one reason it is so important for people with diabetes to have a plan to help reduce the influence of stress in their lives. Deep breathing, music, meditation, and humor are just a few devices people turn to. On the other hand, I have known several people on whom stress has the opposite effect, causing unexplainable, and unexpected low blood sugar to develop. Regardless of how stress affects you, it is important to recognize these affects and act upon them. You may want to set up a plan, in advance, with your doctor. If you take insulin, you need to have a "formula" (usually your insulin/correction ratio) in place, which will help you determine how much insulin to take at these times. One other thought: stress can be "positive" or "negative". In other words, it doesn't just have to be a bad thing happening to you to cause stress. Good events that take you from your normal routine can be a stressor as well (such as when traveling). Pay attention to your blood glucose levels and prepare! dLife has a tip that may interest you as well. - Anne Carroll, RN, CDE

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Last Modified Date: July 09, 2013

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by Brenda Bell
Many people say that depression is a side effect or complication of diabetes. Without discounting the association of the psychological condition with the physical one, I'm not convinced that our high and/or unstable glucose levels are directly responsible for that change in our mental state. My belief is that the unrelenting need for self-care, for following the sort of care schedules that can drive licensed, professional caregivers crazy, is what overwhelms us...
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