Did You Know People with Diabetes May Naturally Be More Stressed?
Many studies that have been done have shown a higher risk of depression in people with diabetes than people without it. A recent study showed there may be an actual link between insulin resistance and stress. A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that people with diabetes had larger reactions to negative visual stimuli than those without diabetes. The study measured brain activity with an EEG while giving the patient negative visual stimulation. It also measured urinary cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone. They concluded "dismetabolism, [such as in hyperglycemia] is associated with increased emotional reactivity and a predisposition toward negative affect."1 In other words, hyperglycemia is associated with increased stress.
Why is stress so problematic?
Ask anyone who has lost their job, dealt with a health issue, or lost a loved one and you will learn why stress can be such an issue. Not only does it lead you to feel negative emotions such as anger and sadness, it can actually keep you from being motivated. This study shows that because hyperglycemia leads to more negative reactions, people with prediabetes or diabetes have frequent feelings of pessimism. These sad feelings can lead to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, which in turn can lead to a lack of motivation. “If people with prediabetes and diabetes are trying to reverse or treat the disease, stressful events may hinder their goals. Frequent negative reactions to stressful events can lead to a lower quality of life and create a vicious cycle that makes it difficult to be healthy."2
How can you get motivated during stress?
Anytime someone is under stress, gathering a support system should be step number one. Whether it is a family member, a physician, a friend, or all three, establishing a solid support system can help lead to more motivation. When we have someone that can help us be accountable, we are more likely to stick with changes. It is also easier to make changes with someone. If you have a spouse, ask him or her to make some diet and exercise changes with you so that you don’t feel alone. Step two in getting motivated is to start slowly. If you need to eat more vegetables, have that be the one thing you work towards instead of piling on extra things that may feel too overwhelming to conquer. Once you have established that change, add on another goal.
What if you need more help?
Mental health is just as important as physical health. If you are struggling with feelings of depression, sadness, or a lack of motivation, be sure to speak with your physician. He or she may be able to refer you to a counselor that can help you tackle your feelings and become a more solid version of you.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your diabetes?