What To Do About Sugar And Anxiety
The bottom line: eat less sugar and more nutritious foods for anxiety. While thats the goal, its helpful to look at in pieces and create a plan for reducing sugar gradually. This way, you avoid intense cravings that can sabotage your progress.
With a plan in mind to gradually eliminate sugars from your diet and add healthier foods for anxiety, you can choose one or two types of sugary foods to eliminate. This list of sugary foods that can make your anxiety symptoms worse can help you know what to change and in what order you want to make those changes.
- Soda, including diet soda
Pregnant Women With Diabetes At A Higher Risk For Anxiety
The constant pressure during to achieve nearly perfect blood sugar levels can be overwhelming.
Anxiety isnt just likely, it should be expected, as supported by this 2016 study in Brazil. While it is one of the most incredible challenges a woman could undertake, managing diabetes during pregnancy can be incredibly stressful.
Because there are even more variables affecting blood sugar levels during pregnancy, tighter management requires constant blood sugar checks and adjustments in insulin doses, along with the pressure of knowing that your blood sugar impacts your babys wellbeing minute-by-minute.
The study did conclude, however, that the anxiety was quite generalized around the entire pregnancy rather than being related to a particular blood sugar level at any given time.
Sugar And Anxiety: How Does Sugar Make Your Anxiety Worse
Its long been theorized that sugar causes anxiety. Studies are showing that there is a correlation and that yes, sugar can make your anxiety symptoms worse.
One way in which sugar contributes to anxiety is related to our blood sugar levels, also known as blood glucose levels. When we eat or drink refined sugar or artificially processed sugar substitutes, this is the basic process that happens in our bodies:
- We experience a burst of energy as the body effortlessly and rapidly digests these simple carbohydrates
- The body burns fuel from simple carbohydrates quickly because theres not much to simple carbs on the molecular level
- As this happens we experience a crash because our blood sugar levels have plummeted quickly
- The crash is frequently accompanied by symptoms of anxiety
- Often, to get out of the crash or because we crave a certain food or beverage, we consume more foods that are high in refined sugars
- The cycle repeats itself
This pattern of blood sugar spikes and crashes is hard on the brain and leads to symptoms of anxiety. Further, theres a connection between sugar and anxiety attacks.
In this cycle, when blood sugar suffers extreme swings from high to low and back again, the brain tries to deal with the stress by releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. The release of these hormones can make your anxiety symptoms worse as well as contribute to new anxiety and anxiety attacks. Indeed, the relationship between blood sugar and anxiety is strong.
Read Also: Diabetes 1 And 2 Difference
Depression: More Than Just A Bad Mood
Depression is a medical illness that causes feelings of sadness and often a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy. It can get in the way of how well you function at work and home, including taking care of your diabetes. When you arent able to manage your diabetes well, your risk goes up for diabetes complications like heart disease and nerve damage.
People with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to have depression than people without diabetes. Only 25% to 50% of people with diabetes who have depression get diagnosed and treated. But treatmenttherapy, medicine, or bothis usually very effective. And without treatment, depression often gets worse, not better.
Symptoms of depression can be mild to severe, and include:
- Feeling sad or empty
- Losing interest in favorite activities
- Overeating or not wanting to eat at all
- Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much
- Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Feeling very tired
- Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty
- Having aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
- Having thoughts of suicide or death
If you think you might have depression, get in touch with your doctor right away for help getting treatment. The earlier depression is treated, the better for you, your quality of life, and your diabetes.
What Happens To My Blood Sugar Levels When Im Stressed
During stressful situations, epinephrine , glucagon, growth hormone and cortisol play a role in blood sugar levels. Stressful situations include infections, serious illness or significant emotion stress.
When stressed, the body prepares itself by ensuring that enough sugar or energy is readily available. Insulin levels fall, glucagon and epinephrine levels rise and more glucose is released from the liver. At the same time, growth hormone and cortisol levels rise, which causes body tissues to be less sensitive to insulin. As a result, more glucose is available in the blood stream.
When you have type 2 diabetes, low blood sugars from too much medication or insulin are a common cause of stress. The hormonal response to a low blood sugar includes a rapid release of epinephrine and glucagon, followed by a slower release of cortisol and growth hormone. These hormonal responses to the low blood sugar may last for 6-8 hours during that time the blood sugar may be difficult to control. The phenomena of a low blood sugar followed by a high blood sugar is called a rebound or Somogyi reaction.
When you have type 2 diabetes, stress may make your blood sugar go up and become more difficult to control and you may need to take higher doses of your diabetes medications or insulin.
During times of stress, individuals with diabetes, may have more difficulty controlling their blood sugars.
Also Check: Type 2 Diabetes In Men
Anxiety Over Diabetes Management
Managing your blood sugar and other aspects of your health when you have diabetes can be time consuming and stressful, and also contribute to anxiety.
For people with diabetes, monitoring blood sugar usually involves a home finger prick test. Fear of needles, as well as fear of the results, may lead to anxiety.
One study found that 33% of people with diabetes experience anxiety specific to the finger prick method of glucose testing. Thirty percent of people with diabetes in this same study had generalized anxiety related to their diabetes management.
Other areas of diabetes management may also lead to stress and anxiety. This includes monitoring potential symptoms of vision loss , nerve damage , slow-healing wounds on the feet or extremities, kidney damage, and more.
Why Low Blood Sugar Makes You Anxious
When your blood sugar drops, your body tries to bring it up. It pumps out , a âfight or flightâ? hormone that, among other things, tells your to make more glucose .
Adrenaline also makes your race and your palms sweat. And it can make you feel cranky and anxious. These are warning signs that your blood sugar is too low. If it stays there, your body puts out more hormones, including one called , also known as the hormone, partially because it helps control things like your mood and fear.
Put adrenaline and cortisol together, and youve got a recipe for .
Also Check: How To Lower Blood Sugar Fast Without Medication
The Link Between Anxiety And Glucose Levels
Stress can affect your blood sugars, though research tends to be mixed as to how. In some people, it appears to raise blood glucose levels, while in others it appears to lower them.
At least one has shown there may also be an association between glycemic control and mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, particularly for men.
However, another study found that general anxiety didnt affect glycemic control, but diabetes-specific emotional stress did.
Other research has found that people with type 1 diabetes seem to be more susceptible to physical harm from stress while those with type 2 diabetes werent. Ones personality also seems to determine the effect to some extent as well.
What Has Anxiety Got To Do With Diabetes
Anxiety is the most common mental health issue that Australians experience. Among people with diabetes, some have anxiety before a diagnosis of diabetes, while for others, specific fears associated with managing diabetes may trigger anxiety.
The link between anxiety and diabetes is not yet fully understood, and research is ongoing.
What is clear is that anxiety can affect the way people manage their diabetes and, in turn, their physical health. Some examples include:
- checking blood glucose levels continuously due to intense fears of hypos or developing complications
- avoiding injecting in public, or not injecting at all, due to worry about what others might think.
A few years ago I was really anxious, but it wasnt just the diabetes. Diabetes was just one factor, but it was a focal point.
Louise, 27, person with diabetes
Also Check: What Causes High Glucose
Recommended Reading: Healthy Meal Plan For Type 2 Diabetes
Fear Of Low Blood Sugars
A fear of low blood sugars is a very common and justified form of anxiety that anyone taking insulin or other medications that decrease blood sugar levels could develop.
Often, severe anxiety and fear around lows develop after experiencing an intensely severe low blood sugar that left you unconscious, in need of a glucagon injection, seizing, or occurred during a situation like when you were driving.
A traumatic low blood sugar experience can completely rob a person of their confidence in their ability to manage and treat the average low blood sugar. A severe low could happen to any of us and coming back from that experience psychologically isnt easy.
The biggest challenge with a fear of hypoglycemia is that you will inevitably experience low blood sugars again in your future unless you purposefully run your blood sugars high all the time in an effort to avoid them altogether. This doesnt, however, appease your anxiety because now you are putting your long-term health and safety in danger with consistently high blood sugar levels.
Rebuilding your confidence in your ability to manage your low blood sugars and bring your blood sugars back into a healthy range overall takes time.
Diabetes psychologist Dr. Mark Heyman from the Center for Diabetes and Mental Health works with his patients on exactly this.
Talk to your healthcare team! Explain to them how youre feeling, how youve been coping by restricting insulin to keep your blood sugars higher and ask for help.
Depression And Diabetes May Occur Together: Heres Why
Although researchers have not conclusively explained any relationship between the two, some possible explanations suggest that diabetes and depression can be associated.
- Environmental factors: While lifestyle choices like not being active play a prominent role other factors such as medical conditions, difficult financial situations, low educational level, income and occupational status could also contribute to the diseases.
- Stress: One of the leading causes of both is stress. Stress activates various systems in the body, including the fight or flight system. If there is high stress, these brain and body systems will always work negatively affecting the body.
- Changes in the brain: A study found that having diabetes produces negative changes in the brain and affects blood flow. It can result in depression.
- Medications for depression: Some animal studies have found that prescriptions for depression may contribute to developing diabetes later in life. However, the results are not conclusive.
Also Check: Diabetes Breakthrough That Was Silenced By Drug Companies
How To Prevent Anxiety Over Hypoglycemia
Most likely, if you havenât already been diagnosed with hypoglycemia, youâre simply experiencing anxiety. Itâs perfectly normal to feel as though your anxiety symptoms must be the result of a health problem, and not anxiety, since in many cases anxiety mimics serious health concerns.
Anxiety is more common than many of the health disorders it mimics and unfortunately people with anxiety commonly experiencing health anxiety which may cause further concern over the symptoms they experience.
Was this article helpful?
Five Ways To Balance Blood Sugar
As a doctor, I’m constantly amazed by the human body. This is such an intricate system we have, isnt it? The main thing to know is that what we eat, how we eat, and what lifestyle choices we follow can significantly affect our blood sugar balance and our mental balance. It’s all tied together. So what can we do about it? It can feel overwhelming at first, but the body’s systems are so intricately connected that making a few small changes can create big changes in our overall health. Here are five of my go-to tips for tackling all of these issues at once:
Recommended Reading: Treatment Of Latent Autoimmune Diabetes In Adults What Is Best
Low Blood Sugar Mimics Anxiety
The mutual symptoms of low blood sugar and anxiety are not coincidental. There is a shared physiological base of the two conditions.
When low blood sugar occurs, the body attempts to normalize levels by bringing blood glucose up. It does this through epinephrine excretion, which triggers glucose production in the liver.
Increased adrenaline levels, however, trigger a “fight or flight” response in the body. This same biochemical process is also linked to anxiety.
A longer-term or chronic low blood sugar state can also cause the body to produce cortisol, which is the “stress hormone.” Cortisol helps tissues in the body be less reactive to insulin, which helps increase glucose circulation in the bloodstream.
While this may help raise and normalize blood sugar levels, higher cortisol levels are also linked to anxiety. For this reason, many of the warning signs and symptoms of low blood sugar are shared with that of anxiety.
Why Your Blood Sugar Drops
The goal of diabetes treatment is to lower your blood sugar. But sometimes, it drops too low. Most people feel symptoms if it goes below 70 milligrams per deciliter . It can happen when you:
- Take too much diabetes medicine
- Exercise more than normal
People who donât have diabetes can get low blood sugar, too. Some medicines and diseases can cause it. It can also happen if you:
- Drink too much alcohol
- Eat lots of sugary, high-carb foods
Recommended Reading: Diabetic Meal Plan To Gain Weight
Symptoms Of Sugar Rushes
Similarly, sugar rush and withdrawal do have a tendency to mimic some of the physical symptoms of anxiety, like shaking and nervousness. This is linked to the rush of energy that you get as the glucose is broken down in your bloodstream in order to release sharp spikes of energy. For most people, this only occurs after considerable sugar consumption, but depending on what you eat and how long you go before eating again, you may be at risk of over stimulating your body and worsening anxiety if you eat sugar.
These symptoms are not causing anxiety, but if you already have anxiety, the added shaking and tension may make your anxiety worse.
Running High To Avoid Hypos
I was so terrified of hypos that running my blood sugar high was a way of avoiding that.
Some people run their blood sugar levels high to prevent having hypos, especially if theyre anxious about having one. And while this might help with your anxiety at first, its not actually helping you manage these feelings.
Running high can increase your risk of developing complications now and in the future, so its not worth it in the long run. And worrying about complications can cause you even more stress.
You need to get to the root of your anxiety so you can get the right support from friends, family and your healthcare team. We know it wont be easy, but were here to help.
Recommended Reading: Best Running Shoes For Diabetics
Is Emotional Eating Connected To Type 2 Diabetes
Living with diabetes or any chronic condition can take a toll on your mental health. Between worrying about your blood sugar and the novel coronavirus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes can pose higher-than-normal health risks in people with diabetes, your stress and anxiety may be hitting new highs.
Although you cant change a diabetes diagnosis, you can take steps to ease your anxiety.
How Glucose Levels Affect Depression And Anxiety
Glucose levels, or blood sugar, are the bodys primary energy source. You obtain it from the food you consume. However, it also plays a significant role in maintaining the bodys metabolism. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, aids in transporting glucose into the bodys cells. The first signs of poor metabolic health appear when you eat the wrong foods, and the blood glucose levels are not in accordance. It leads to overweight and obesity and several other lifestyle diseases.
Being overweight can increase the risk of poor performance in several spheres. Also, it definitely creates a negative body image issue. All of these can affect ones mental health. Similarly, stress and lack of sleep can lead to the hormones going haywire, leading to a feeling of exhaustion and fatigue.
Different life stages like postpartum, recovery from illnesses, losing a loved one, or even the loss of a career or displacement are several reasons that make us resort to food as a point of comfort. Therefore, knowing the relationship between food, how blood glucose levels fluctuate, and how wrong food choices lead us to a labyrinth of ill mental and physical health is imperative. HealthifyPRO 2.0 makes it easy with the power of 5: calorie counting, continuous glucose monitoring, pro coaches, smart scale and metabolic panel.
Read Also: Best Non Dairy Milk For Diabetics
Surprising Things That Can Spike Your Blood Sugar
When you first found out you had diabetes, you tested your blood sugar often to understand how food, activity, stress, and illness could affect your blood sugar levels. By now, youve got it figured out for the most part. But thenbam! Something makes your blood sugar zoom up. You try to adjust it with food or activity or insulin, and it dips really low. Youre on a rollercoaster no one with diabetes wants to ride.
Do you know all of these blood sugar triggers?
Knowledge is power! Look out for these surprising triggers that can send your blood sugar soaring:
Donât Miss: How To Give Up Sugar For Good