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How Does Stress Affect Diabetes?

Diabetes can be stressful on its own, but as��luck��would have��it,��the stress itself may worsen your diabetes. Here is��a guide to help you understand how stress can affect��your diabetes.

Stress
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, some of the most common causes of stress include: the death of a loved one, divorce or marital separation, job loss, major injury or illness, marriage, pregnancy, retirement and incarceration. Many of these stressful events are major life changes that will affect almost everyone in the short or long run.��Whether long-term or short-term, stress causes a number of physical reactions that can be harmful to your health, especially if you have diabetes.

Fight-or-flight response
When you are under any sort of stress, whether emotional or physical,��you typically feel as if your body is under attack. As a result, your body starts getting ready for some action, and you will fight or flee to safety. Known as the fight-or-flight response, this prehistorical instinct is a natural response to perceived danger. When you feel forced into a��corner, your hormone levels escalate and your entire body goes into overdrive.��To support this exertion, your body accesses its energy stores of��glucose and fat.��For people who have diabetes,��this��sudden release of glucose��can increase blood sugar levels and cause health��complications.

Direct effects
By tapping into your glucose stores during the fight-or-flight response, stress can affect blood sugar directly. According to the American Diabetes Association��(ADA), stress creates different responses between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. When faced with mental stress, people with type 2 diabetes typically see an��increase in blood��glucose levels. People with type 1 diabetes show more mixed responses, as some��individuals see their blood glucose levels drop when feeling mental stress. In��physically stressful situations,��people with either type of diabetes will��experience��elevated blood��glucose levels.

To��examine the effects of mental stress on your blood sugar level, the ADA recommends performing a small test. Before performing your routine��check for glucose levels, rate your mental��stress level on a scale of one to 10.��Record your glucose level alongside your mental stress rating.��Keep an eye out for any emerging patterns. For example, if the numbers��tend to both increase at the same time,��a high level of mental stress��may be causing��higher��blood glucose levels.

Peripheral effects
Stress can cause behavioral changes that affect your diabetes. Stress can distract you from taking care of your health. You may feel more forgetful, preoccupied or simply too busy to monitor your glucose levels closely. Some people who experience stress might drink alcohol or compulsively eat to cope, which can have serious effects on blood glucose levels. These effects can be particularly malevolent if long-term stress develops into depression. Stress��may also affect other health conditions, including heart diseases, autoimmune disorders and digestive problems.

Coping with stress
Effective stress management is different for everyone.��Daily exercises can help curb the immediate fight-or-flight response. Such exercises include meditation, breathing exercises and��physical relaxation exercises.��Progressive relaxation therapy is a popular��technique for relieving stress. You simply��tense��individual muscle groups then release them, repeating the process for your whole body.��Long-term stress relief might��require large-scale��lifestyle changes. Depending on the situation, chronic stress may be alleviated through��counseling or therapy,��changes in��daily diet��or a regular exercise routine.