What do you see as the role stress plays in your diabetes?

By Caroltoo Latest Reply 2012-02-25 22:27:16 -0600
Started 2012-02-18 17:42:13 -0600

I see two possibilities: (1) how does stress cause diabetes and (2) how does stress complicate your treatment of your diabetes?

Recently I commented to a fellow health practitioner that I wondered how much of a role stress had in causing my diabetes given I have had jobs that involve life/death choices over much of the last 30 years. He looked surprised, then said, "Of course it does! Stress interferes with carbohydrate metabolism!"

How does it affect your life and health? What do you do to lessen the affect?

71 replies

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-02-24 13:47:27 -0600 Report

Carol back in the day when I could eat what ever I wanted, stress was a major part of my life. I had a job I loved and a boss I hated to the point it hurt my eyes to look at her, I suffered so bad from PMS my girlfriend gave me a coffee mug that said "I have PMS and a handgun, any questions?" and food was used to make me feel better. From 2001 until 2008 I was unemployed while caring for both parents. During that time I went to college and graduated in the to 10% of my class.

As a teenager, I suffered from a major traumatic experience which will effect me for the rest of my life if I am not careful. My unhealthy eating habits contributed to my diabetes. Stress may have played a role, however, it wasn't until I broke down at work and doctor who was a friend came into my office and talked to me. By then I had a different boss who I adored. He put me in touch with a friend of his who is a psychologist. I was hospitalized for 34 days and during this time, I was introduced to Biofeedback. This treatment helped me to recognize stress and relieve it without medication.

Today, stress does not play a major role in my life so it plays not role in my diabetes. I took my life back which saved my life. You can easily free yourself of stress if you choose to do so.

People stay in bad relationships or are devastated when a relationship ends. Let him/her go. Sure you are hurt but you can not make anyone want/need/love you. Move on and someday you will meet that person. People lose loved ones. Grief can destroy you if you let it. No one knows how long it takes to grieve for someone you loved and lost. When your grief becomes the main focus of your life and you can't function, go to grief counseling. You may feel know one knows how you feel but everyone who has ever lost someone can relate. Kubler-Ross wrote a great book "Death and Dying" I had to take a class that dealt with death when I was studying for my EMT. It helped me a lot when my parents, relatives and friends died.

You cannot control the economy or other people. Why stress yourself out over it. Can't pay your bills, talk to the company. Most will work with you because they don't want the what your bought back. Let your adult children run their own lives. You raised them to the best of your ability. You love them and don't want to see them in bad situations but they made the decisions they made. Let them work through it and help if you can but don't let it destroy you. Finally the only person you can change is you. Work on yourself and be the best person you can be.

I don't stress over things I can't control and I work on problems immediately. I know I may not be able to solve them overnight but if I am working on them, they won't be so out of control in the future. I can say that 99% of the time, I am stress free.

Caroltoo 2012-02-24 14:30:10 -0600 Report

Love the description of your coffee mug! Sorry for the pain and distress it represents, but the words are funny!

Teenage girls all to frequently experience trauma that, as they try to establish control over the events in their lives, also sets them up for eating disorders. Those disorders can also be a setup for diabetes, unfortunately, so it becomes both a physical and a mental health issue. Glad you sought treatment and are dealing with these issues. Treatment works: I wish more sought help.

Dealing with issues as they occur is usually the best way and knowing what you will do about them does reduce stress. Sounds like you are making some really good choices. I'm happy to say I'm right there with you on this process. The Serenity Prayer has deep meaning for me as, with my husband's terminal illness, there is much that I have to just accept at this point. I've done so and we are doing well with his situation.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-02-24 14:39:26 -0600 Report

Carol, I am sorry to hear about your husband. It is good that you accepted what is happening. We cannot change many things in our lives but we can accept what happens and move forward from there. Bless you for being who you are and thanks for you wonderful input.

Caroltoo 2012-02-24 14:46:06 -0600 Report

Thank you, Joyce, for your concern. Wayne is 10 years into Alzheimer's and I am home caring for him right now. We are making the most of the moments we have left.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-02-24 14:53:10 -0600 Report

Carol my dad had Alzheimer's. It got to the point where my sister, mother and I could not watch him. We ended up having to put him in a nursing home which we didn't want to do. Enjoy the time you have with him and please take care of yourself.

Caroltoo 2012-02-24 15:18:34 -0600 Report

Thanks, Joyce. So far I've been blessed with him wanting to be cared for at home and so being cooperative. Frankly, he seems atypical of A's patients I've known, so I often have wondered what else is really going on and he just got the current "in diagnosis". Just this week I discovered part of the disorientation was a reaction to Tylenol in his pain meds. I knew he had reacted 20 years ago to Nyquil, but didn't make the connection. Regardless, the darling has prostate cancer, heart problems, and several TIAs, so, frankly, I pray that the body gives out before the mind goes completely.

Caroltoo 2012-02-25 05:30:15 -0600 Report

Yes and that is so sad … to have a living, otherwise healthy body, which is not directed by conscious, logical thought. That's one I'll have to ask God about when the time comes. It seems so pointless to be allowed to live in a mental vacuum., but there has to be a reason that I just don't get!

New subject: I like your photo and am happy you posted one!

Type1Lou 2012-02-24 13:07:42 -0600 Report

Interesting topic Carol! I developed Type 1 diabetes 36 years ago, several months after I had separated from my first husband. I often thought the stress and separation may have been a factor. Last December 23, I was diagnosed with depression after crying nearly all month. Needless to say, my blood sugars went wacko. After starting on some antidepressants, I'm coping better and getting back in control. So yes, stress definitely makes it harder to control our diabetes. The key is to deal with stress without dis-stress!

Caroltoo 2012-02-24 14:37:49 -0600 Report

Thanks for sharing this situation, Lou. I, too, find that stress is a major contributor to development of diabetes (triggering event) and to BG increases that seem to have no discernably food-related cause. That's why I occasionally say: I am controlling my diabetes with exercise, appropriate diet (low carb, high protein, gluten-free), and good stress management.

I've also been a bit surprised at what constitutes "stress" in this context. It's not just those things that we typically think of as stress, but also those things which put stress on our body, a specific organ, or a system. For example, I've had a severe sinus infection for two weeks (getting better now), and have seen my BGs go up some. Diet is in check, exercise has been minimal, but the body has responded to the physiological stress of a severe infection.

Set apart
Set apart 2012-02-23 12:46:32 -0600 Report

Hi Carol, you know Carol that before I was diagnosed I always was conscious about what I ate, exercising, etc… There was a stress factor though always lingering my daughter who has been clean almost 6 months was a drug addict, for the last 5 years, constant worries, etc… Were my stressors every day, I prayed constantly for God to bring her back to me and he did through my diagnosis. This is my cross which I will carry forever for my God and for my daughter!

Caroltoo 2012-02-23 15:23:27 -0600 Report

I can identify with that, Louise! I, too, was always careful with my diet and exercised and had no family history of diabetes, so I see work stress as the biggest probable cause. Glad to hear your daughter is doing well now.

Set apart
Set apart 2012-02-23 16:19:23 -0600 Report

Thank you Carol! Work can be a big stressor, especially for those of us who want to be perfectionists!

Young1s 2012-02-23 12:36:48 -0600 Report

One of the things I've learned in dealing with my D is when I get stressed or when I miss my usual eating time, I'm easily annoyed. There was one particular time when I tested my levels after feeling really stressed and I was about 280. Then there was another time when we were out and it was about 2-3 hours beyond our scheduled time for dinner. I was fussing at my family for the littlest things. I didn't test myself that time, but once I ate I felt loads better and even apologized to son who took the brunt of my frustration that night.

Caroltoo 2012-02-23 15:29:46 -0600 Report

Oh, yes! If mine is high or low, I see it as creating stress in my body and I, too, act out in some of those hyper/hypoglycemic patterns. My husband has, on occasion, looked at me puzzled and then said, "Do you need to eat?" I'd realize I was low and hungry and growling. Good awareness though, cause now we can both monitor ourselves better.

judy makowski
judy makowski 2012-02-23 15:56:32 -0600 Report

My blood sugars go up under stress as well. I do what I can to avoid stress but sometimes it isn't possible. Some times just sitting with a candle and watching it either with no noise or sometimes soft music with no words helps to lower the stress

Caroltoo 2012-02-24 06:10:55 -0600 Report

I find a good walk does a lot for me, but that's easier over here in the Hawaiian sunshine that mainland in the winter.

judy makowski
judy makowski 2012-02-24 11:08:52 -0600 Report

I'm in NC and I love the w inters. This year we hardly had one it's been so warm. Today we under a weaher alert of 60 mile per hour winds, rain and possible tornados. That really puts me under stress. It was easier when my husband was alive but being alone really puts me on edge. But this to shall pass. Have a good week.

Caroltoo 2012-02-25 05:56:37 -0600 Report

They are beautiful, Judy. I always enjoyed the four seasons in WA also. Each has it's own splendor. At first, I thought Hawaii didn't have seasons, but it actually does. Each is marked by definite but subtle changes. Used to the broad brush strokes of mother nature painting with ice and snow on the mainland, it took me a couple of years to learn the subtlies of the seasons in my new home.

dietcherry 2012-02-24 19:29:59 -0600 Report

lol It was 76 degrees here and then a severe t'storm and tornado watch moved in and the temperature plummeted into the 50's!!!!! Tornado season is upon us!

Graylin Bee
Graylin Bee 2012-02-24 19:34:03 -0600 Report

Our tornado season is still few months away. We just have the upslope winds and stormfront winds of up to 60 mph to contend with at this time of year.

red flower lady
red flower lady 2012-02-24 19:38:31 -0600 Report

We get earthquakes, but I'll take them over tornadoes anyday, was in the middle of one when I was little. It was 80 degrees today and will be in the 60 all week?

Caroltoo 2012-02-24 16:38:52 -0600 Report

Sorry to hear about your weather issues. Tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes are all so unpredictable and powerful. I've learned with hurricanes, to get ready to do whatever I need to do to evacuate and then sit tight and see what comes at me.

It is easier when you have someone with you, Judy. I've noticed that also. Our last tsunami was one I prepared for alone and my husband, who is 10 years into Alzheimer's, slept through. That was stressful for me, but I know, if we had needed evacuate, that I had us ready to go and I'd just wake him up and we'd be on our way.

Even though the sense of loss remains, Judy, you do get used to doing it all yourself. Then it becomes less stressful, though it remains a lonely road. Your loss is still new and you are finding your way through the swamp of emotions and decisions that come with the loss of your husband.

jigsaw 2012-02-24 12:19:23 -0600 Report


I'm not to far from you and the weather here today is not to bad so far! We had the same warnings! Sometimes it seems that these so called weather geniuses get paid $ 100,000 annually to make wild guesses. Sit back and relax, their forecast is probably not accurate anyway.

judy makowski
judy makowski 2012-02-24 15:42:38 -0600 Report

It seems to be increasing at the moment. They said it should be going thru the Triangle area just as everyone is getting out of work and on the road. Hope it misses you.

jigsaw 2012-02-24 17:24:14 -0600 Report

At this moment it's a bit dark and dreary, but very calm over here. If it hits, they expect it to roll through quickly. I'm 1 1/2 hours away if you ever need any help in an emergency. I don't think it's going to be to bad, at least over here. Hopefully the same applies to you. I'll be keeping tabs on you to make sure your ok.

jigsaw 2012-02-24 20:11:16 -0600 Report

We had a heavy down pour for about 1/2 hour. I don't think there were any significant problems in the area. Thanks for asking. Glad your ok! Did you lose power?

dietcherry 2012-02-24 20:16:26 -0600 Report

Im glad you folks are okay too! I wasnt home today but none of my clocks were blinking the wrong time when I got in so I know the homestead didnt lose power! lol
There was a wreck right up the road from where I was but no fatalities thank goodness! There was a bad wreck in Archdale wasnt there???

jigsaw 2012-02-24 20:43:26 -0600 Report

I did here about a tractor/trailer going out of control and flipping over on a main hiway. I didn't get the location and miraculously, I don't think anyone was seriously injured. I'm still waiting to hear from Judy, but I suspect she's ok. My biggest concern aside from a tornado is a cat 4 hurricane! That happens, and I'm out of here. I made it through the last 3 hurricanes unscathed, but this is hurricane alley here and I agree with your comment about mother nature. So for now, I can kick back once again, and drink my Metamucil ! LOL…

dietcherry 2012-02-24 22:29:27 -0600 Report

Yeah I think that happened in Archdale. I should turn off E! and watch the news for a change! I was living on a yacht in '89 when Hugo hit and we were docked there at the marina crossing in to Wrightsville Beach! As much as I dearly love boats I dont think I will ever live on one again!!! shiver…

jigsaw 2012-02-25 05:41:53 -0600 Report

Definitely not the place to be in a hurricane! I don't even feel safe on land during a potent hurricane. At least you don't have to worry about swimming around in 15 foot waves!

Caroltoo 2012-02-25 05:48:16 -0600 Report

Hurricanes are so powerful. I've been in two since coming to Hawaii. Flew daily from Oahu to Kauai as part of the mental health emergency team for several months after Iniki. Have you ever seen a palm tree with it's top snapped off? Looks like a living telephone pole! There was so much clean-up afterwards and such increased levels of domestic violence because of the stress.

dietcherry 2012-02-25 10:43:08 -0600 Report

Carol we have palmettos in NC a heartier palm tree and mostly at the beach. My Moms neighbor here in Winston has 2 in his yard and we are almost 4 hours from the coast! A hard freeze can kill them here tho :(

NC has an extremely diverse and gorgeous landscape! If you ever visit, I recommend the Outer Banks where direct descendants of the 25 horses Columbus brought to what became our state in 1493 still reside!

Caroltoo 2012-02-25 21:11:13 -0600 Report

The Carolinas are beautiful. I trained for several weeks in a juvenile sex abuse treatment program (lockdown) that was then located outside of Charlotte. My sister-in-law lives in NW South Carolina. I've been in N. Carolina, but not to the outer banks. I keep hearing about them and would like too. The area has such a rich history too.

dietcherry 2012-02-25 22:27:16 -0600 Report

Alrighty then I will quit trying to sell it! lol I have a lot of state pride as Im sure everyone at DC realizes! Virginia is also absolutely glorious!!!!!!!

jigsaw 2012-02-25 06:19:26 -0600 Report

Hurricanes are incredible forces of nature. The last one we had literally sounded like a freight train was passing through in my backyard! I had a scarey experience with a tornado down in Texas years ago. I was driving along a main thoroughfare when suddenly I noticed the roof of a building crumble up and blow off! It was as if an invisible giant blew a fit of rage. It was probably about a 1000 ft or so accross the road from where I was driving. Fortunately, the side of the road where I was driving was actually calm. I can just imagine the look on my face !! Thought I was going to have to change the drivers seat ! LOL

Caroltoo 2012-02-25 05:50:20 -0600 Report

Yeah, I did a double take on that one too. Maybe a post-test follow-up thing for Al, but a mint julep sounds more enjoyable!

jigsaw 2012-02-25 06:55:03 -0600 Report

That's my warped dry sense of humor for ya. By the way, my tests came back clean. Got a good report, so maybe I will have that mint julep after all.

Caroltoo 2012-02-25 07:10:46 -0600 Report

Good news, Al. Glad to hear this. Sounds like you did ok with yesterday's storm also. Have you heard anything from Judy since yesterday evenings comments?

jigsaw 2012-02-25 07:25:47 -0600 Report

Thanks Carol. I haven't heard from Judy yet, maybe she's sleeping a bit late this morning. I expect she'll make a showing by noon. I haven't heard any disasterous news reports about the after affects of the storm, so hopefully all is well.

jigsaw 2012-02-25 05:49:26 -0600 Report

A mint julep would be my preference accept for the after effects. Metamucil has the advantage hands down !

jayabee52 2012-02-24 11:20:14 -0600 Report

I suspect that once you get used to your "new normal" without your hubby you may find that your stress and your edginess may diminish.

I am sorry for your loss judy!

judy makowski
judy makowski 2012-02-24 16:48:38 -0600 Report

Thank you. Some one let 3 domestic rabbits looselast fall and I have been feeding them morning and night when I feed mine. One of them was butt heading me as I fed him. When I moved away he kept following me and marking me with his scent. H folloed me up the ramp and onto the porch. He left while it was pouring and I had go inside and close my windows.

Set apart
Set apart 2012-02-24 06:31:58 -0600 Report

Carol, Oh this sounds beautiful, do you walk by the water? Curious, NM has been so dry under a drought, never been to Hawaii, looking for a visual! LOL. Louise

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-02-24 13:52:43 -0600 Report

Louise, Hawaii is so beautiful and lush. I wish I had know Carol when I was there back in the 80's would love to meet her and give her a hug. I grew up in the city but spent most of my summers with relatives who live a mile from the Chesapeake Bay. I lived on the beach (can't swim a lick) we fished and crabbed all the time including at the Naval Academy. The Wal-Mart near me is on a Cape and is on the river and it is beautiful going there looking out over the water. I am 5 mins from our Harbor by car and I use to go and sit and look out at the water which is very calming. I am waiting to be able to afford my 14th cruise.

Caroltoo 2012-02-24 06:39:27 -0600 Report

We live in a condo that fronts a private lake, so my usual walk is on the sidewalk around the lake and nearby homes, so can't always see the lake. It's a 3 mile loop. It's long enough to be interesting and short enough to be no more than 30 minutes from home at any point.

I also walk around the condominium complex when I want to do a shorter walk and about half of that is lakefront. Take some bread along to feed the ducks, geese, and birds in the endangered species wildlife area.

Ocean is just a couple miles away, but I don't usually walk there as I try to stay close to home because of not wanting to be away from Wayne too long at a time. We drive to the beach so he can see the waves.

When I drive to Costco or Whole Foods, it's a drive of about 10 miles and 80% is right on the coast with spectacular ocean views. We frequently park and watch the ocean from the view points along the route.

eristar 2012-02-24 06:31:13 -0600 Report

Hawaii? Seriously?? Okay, I'm not your friend any more…;) I enoy walking as a stress reliever, too…at least when it's not snowing here in WI…

Caroltoo 2012-02-24 06:48:49 -0600 Report

Yes, we visited one year for vacation and spent the next 3 years trying to figure out how to move. That was 21 years ago. I have just loved it here. Take a look at the pictures on my profile page here on diabetic connect. Also have some others on Alzheimer's Connect and Celiac Connect.

jigsaw 2012-02-19 18:11:58 -0600 Report

When my wife gets upset with me, my bg goes up without fail. Good thing I keep her smiling most of the time. Seriously stress does increase my bg. I do what I can to avoid stress when possible, and exercise as a stress outlet.

Caroltoo 2012-02-19 18:33:36 -0600 Report

Stress seriously raises mine also, Al. I, too, try to avoid stress in general and interpersonal issues in particular to help keep me on an even keel emotionally and w/r/t BG.

Old-n-Grey-n-Wiser 2012-02-19 17:58:16 -0600 Report

I blame my diabetes on my life style, I worked many years on night shifts, which lead to many brown bag lunches, also I have an heritage of old-time French Canadian, nothing was let go to waste. My stress interferes with being able to control my numbers, as they rise and lower with my levels of stress. The day the mess that is causing my stress is brought under control my diabetes will once again be under control.

Caroltoo 2012-02-19 18:37:15 -0600 Report

Sounds like some of those brown bag lunches weren't ones you would consider too healthy. Another source of stress is the mess that night shifts can make of your circadian rhythm, though I have heard that studies have shown that regular night shifts mess with it less than rotating night shifts.

I hope you are correct about that last statement cause the other possibility is that it might have caused enough new damage that control would remain difficult.

Nick1962 2012-02-18 19:54:21 -0600 Report

Interesting topic Carol. I was told stress acts on your body like the fight or flight mechanism. When we're under stress, our bodies feel threatened and tend to hang on to resources like carbs and sugars in case we need them as potential fuel for a fight or action. I know that may be overly simplistic, but after years of compromised metabolism, I could see where that could accumulate to being a diabetic contributor. I know in my past when I was at my worst how bad I felt, and in hindsight how stressed I was because of it. Seemed like viscous cycle. Along with BG and food, I've learned to take a mental log of my moods, and what helps them when I get in them. If I'm angry and worked up, I get on the treadmill with some loud music and walk it out. Depressed, I'm out in the garage cutting up wood (and usually just making expensive wood into expensive sawdust). Still working out the kinks in my "psycological care plan", but I suspect that's on ongoing thing throughout life.

Caroltoo 2012-02-19 18:43:42 -0600 Report

Yes, Nick, stress triggers the fight or flight response and it's accompanying surge of adrenalin. We do store carbohydrates at that time because, as they are broken down into sugars, we have the fuel for the fight or our flight.

Tracking your moods to their source and dealing with it is an excellent idea, as is working off the stress through any physical activity rather than just "understanding" what it is. ID is a big part of the battle, but we need the physicality to bring the BGs down faster.