Stress and Diabetes: How One Impacts the Other
Caption: Stress can influence blood sugar control in many ways. Dr Evelyn Boon, Head of the
Department of Psychology at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group shares more. (iStock photo)

Stress is our body's (and mind's) way of telling us that something has upset our normal equilibrium. At times stress is not a bad thing as it motivates us to succeed, but stress can also affect us in a negative way.

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An example is how stress can influence blood sugar control. It can cause hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) as well as interfere with self-care in the following ways:

  • Poor sleep: When you are under a lot of stress, your sleep may be quite disrupted. You may find yourself not sleeping well and feeling tired
  • Smoking or drinking too much: You may also turn to "quick fix" ways to relieve your stress
  • Lack of exercise: You may not feel like bothering to stay active and find yourself too tired to do any exercise
  • Changes in appetite: Some may engage in comfort eating as well

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How stress impacts diabetes management

All the above-mentioned behaviours can have a significant impact on diabetes management.

When you are stressed, your blood sugar may increase and when your blood sugar is not under control, you may feel less able to cope with stress and more easily affected by things.

Also, diabetes management itself can be a huge source of stress. Being diagnosed with diabetes can cause emotional distress as the required lifestyle changes (like diet management, medication, exercise) involve a lot of effort, not just on the part of the patient but loved ones and caregivers as well.

The best way for both patient and caregiver to manage that stress is to learn more about diabetes and its management, and how to work it into their daily routine. Stress can also be minimised with proper stress management strategies.

Related article: Caring for a diabetes patient  – do's and don'ts


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