Diabetes and Anxiety: 6 Practical Tips for Diabetics to Manage Anxiety

Diabetes and Anxiety: 6 Practical Tips for Diabetics to Manage Anxiety

Anxiety is a common emotion that everyone experiences at one point or another.

But for people with diabetes, anxiety can be a more constant and even debilitating feeling.

In this article, we'll explore the connection between both conditions and what you can do to manage anxiety and diabetes.

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What Do the Experts Have to Say?

One study found that Americans with diabetes have a 20 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with anxiety than nondiabetics. 

It was found that this issue was common among young people and Hispanic Americans.

Other studies also suggest that those with diabetes often risk developing major depression and other mental health illnesses, such as bipolar disorder. 

Anxiety and Blood Sugar Levels

Anxiety and elevated blood sugar levels go hand in hand. 

When you're anxious, your body releases stress hormones like cortisol.

An increase in cortisol production over time can lead to increased blood sugar levels. 

High blood sugar levels caused by anxiety can lead to several issues, including:

  • difficulty concentrating
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • rapid heartbeat
  • sweating

If you have anxiety and diabetes, it's important to work with your healthcare team to manage both conditions. 

Diabetes-related Causes of Anxiety

It's normal to feel anxious when you have diabetes. After all, the disease can lead to severe complications like blindness, kidney failure, and amputation.

However, there are things you can do to manage your anxiety. First, it's important to understand the causes of your anxiety. Then, you can develop a plan to cope with your fears.

Many things can cause anxiety for people with diabetes. Some common triggers include:

• The fear of complications from the disease, such as blindness, kidney failure, or amputation

• The worry that you will not be able to control your blood sugar levels

• The stress of managing your diabetes daily

• The uncertainty about the future and how the disease will progress

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety is part of our daily life; however, when anxiety becomes excessive, it can interfere with daily activities and cause significant distress.

Look out for signs of stress or anxiety, as this might worsen your condition. Stress and anxiety could cause many symptoms including:

  • feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • having a feeling of impending danger, panic, or disaster
  • having an increased heart rate
  • sweating- trembling or shaking
  • feeling short of breath
  • feeling weak or tired
  • irritability
  • nausea or gastrointestinal distress
  • feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or faint
  • trouble concentrating
  • sleep problems

Tips to Manage Your Anxiety

If you're feeling anxious, there are many things you can do to ease your symptoms. Here are a few ideas:

Identify Your Triggers

What situations or events tend to make you feel anxious? Regardless of your triggers, it's essential to try to identify them.

Once you know what sets off your anxiety, you can either avoid those situations if possible or at least be better prepared to deal with them.

If you're unsure what your triggers are, keep a journal and write down whenever you feel anxious. Over time, you should start to see patterns emerge. 

Exercise 

If you're feeling anxious, try going for a walk or a run. You'll get your heart pumping and endorphins flowing, which can help relieve stress.

Even a few minutes of deep breathing or stretching can make a difference if you don't have time for a complete workout.

Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. It can help reduce anxiety, improve mood, and promote better sleep. So if you're feeling anxious, get moving and start reaping the benefits of exercise today.

Relaxation Techniques 

There are many relaxation techniques that can help ease anxiety. Deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation are all effective methods for managing anxiety.

Deep breathing is a simple but effective way to calm the mind and body. When you take deep breaths, it sends a signal to the brain that you are relaxed and in control. This can help to ease anxiety and promote feelings of calmness.

Progressive muscle relaxation is another effective technique for managing anxiety. This involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body. This helps to release tension and promote feelings of relaxation.

There are many different relaxation techniques that can help ease anxiety. Try experimenting with different techniques to see what works best for you. 

Give Up Alcohol and Coffee 

If you're struggling with anxiety, it's important to avoid substances that can worsen it.

Caffeine and alcohol are two common culprits. Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase your heart rate and make you feel more jittery and on edge. It's also a diuretic, which can contribute to dehydration and amplify anxiety symptoms.

Alcohol is a depressant that can slow down your nervous system. While it may initially provide some relief from anxiety, it eventually makes symptoms worse. It can also lead to dependence and addiction, which will only compound your anxiety problems. 

Manage Anxiety and Diabetes with Counseling or Therapy 

If you're struggling with anxiety, one of the best things you can do is seek counseling or therapy.

A therapist can help you understand and cope with your emotions and teach you useful skills for solving problems.

Counseling or therapy can be enormously helpful on the road to recovery. Counseling can provide support, insight, and guidance.

On the other hand, therapy can help address underlying issues and help you develop healthy coping mechanisms. Neither is a quick fix, but both can be invaluable tools in your journey toward healing.

Healthy Diet 

When it comes to managing anxiety and diabetes, a healthy diet is key. The right foods can help regulate blood sugar levels and promote calmness and relaxation.

Here are some tips for eating a healthy diet that can help manage diabetes and anxiety:

Focus on fresh, whole foods. Stock your pantry with healthy staples like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats.

Limit processed foods and sugary drinks. These can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, triggering anxiety and worsening diabetes symptoms.

Include stress-busting foods in your diet. Foods like salmon, nuts, and yogurt contain nutrients that can help reduce stress levels.

Following a healthy diet can help you manage diabetes and anxiety. By making smart food choices, you can help keep blood sugar levels in check and feel your best mentally and physically. 

Conclusion

If you're living with diabetes and anxiety, know you're not alone. Millions of people are dealing with the same thing. The good news is that there are things you can do to manage your anxiety. These six tips are a great place to start.

Experiment and see what works for you. And remember, if your anxiety is severe, talk to your doctor or a therapist about other treatment options that may be available to you.

Resources 

Tips for Dealing with Anxiety and Diabetes

https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/with-anxiety#research

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/diabetes-and-depression/faq-20057904

https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/diabetes-bipolar-disorder-takes-its-toll

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/diabetes-and-depression/faq-20057904

https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/diabetes-bipolar-disorder-takes-its-toll
https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/111609p38.shtml#:~:text=Blood%20Sugar%20Imbalance%20and%20Diabetes&text=However%2C%20elevated%20cortisol%20over%20the,a%20causative%20factor%20is%20unknown
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495
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December 2nd, 2022