While most people with diabetes recognize the physical symptoms, they might not expect to have feelings of anxiety. There are many reasons why people with diabetes may have a higher level of anxiety. Find out what leads to feelings of anxiety and how to combat them.
- Low blood sugar can be linked with rising anxiety levels. When a person with diabetes acts anxious, they might have low blood sugar. Use a blood glucose monitor to check your blood sugar levels. Eat or drink a snack with simple sugar to raise your blood sugar level. Consider chewing 1-2 glucose tablets to raise your blood sugar level fast. They work quickly, are inexpensive, and do not contain too many calories. If you cannot raise your blood sugar level, contact your doctor immediately. Hypoglycemia can happen if you skip meals and snacks, exercise vigorously or do not time your insulin doses properly. Never skip meals or snacks. Eat extra food if you plan to workout hard. Be aware of when you should take insulin and do not administer too much. Low blood sugar can be dangerous just like high blood sugar.
- Studies such as the one conducted at the Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands reveal anxiety and depression tend to be higher in people who have type 2 diabetes. Anxiety symptoms are also more prevalent for people with a high body mass index. Sometimes when people feel anxious they overeat. Emotional eating is very common in people who have diabetes. Excess body fat makes it harder for the body to regulate insulin, which creates a vicious cycle. Even losing 5- 10 percent of your body weight can make a big difference.
- People with diabetes have a major responsibility to help control the disease and its symptoms. This responsibility can become stressful. If diabetes is uncontrolled, it can lead to other serious health conditions including heart disease and blindness. This may cause feelings of stress and anxiety. It is important to regularly review your diabetes self-management plan with your health care team to feel empowered. Be prepared for situations such as parties with tempting food. Bring snacks you can eat so you don’t feel deprived. Fit exercise into your regular routine. If you are away, take long walks or do stretching exercises in your room to boost your endorphins and reduce stress.
- Sometimes people with diabetes feel anxious about what other people may think. Educate your loved ones and friends about diabetes so they don’t feel stressed about being around you. They may fear for your safety. Encourage them to learn more about diabetes and explain how you will handle emergencies. Knowing you are in control will help the people around you deal with your diabetes. Ask them to come with you during a doctor appointment so they can learn more. Bring them to a diabetes class or support group.
- Be cautious about taking medicine to treat your anxiety. Some anti-anxiety medications affect blood sugar levels and may interact with other medications. Beta blockers used for hypertension are often not recommended for people with diabetes. Anti-anxiety medications may cause hunger or cravings for sweets which can be detrimental for people with diabetes. Tricyclic antidepressants may even cause weight gain. Always consult with your doctor before taking any medications so you can be monitored. Report side effects immediately.
- There are natural ways to reduce stress and relieve anxiety. Exercise at least a half hour a day, five days a week. Meditate and do breathing exercises to unwind. Try exercises such as yoga and tai chi to relieve anxiety. Eat a well-balanced diet with lean meats and low-fat dairy, as well as whole grains and fresh produce including plenty of greens. If you are a smoker, it’s time to quit. Moderate your alcohol intake so you have little or none. Go for regular check-ups and take medications as prescribed. If your feelings of anxiety persist, discuss them with a medical doctor or counselor.
If you experience feelings of anxiety with diabetes, you are not alone. Understanding the causes of anxiety and taking control of your condition can reduce anxiety. Feel empowered by learning how to take care of yourself and reach out to medical professionals when you need help.