Stress can be a major contributor to blood sugar levels and diabetes. When an individual is under stress, the body responds as if it’s under attack. Hormones linked to stress, such as epinephrine and cortisol are used in the fight-or-flight response. Both physical and mental stress can increase stress hormones, resulting in raised blood sugar levels. For people with diabetes, the body is not able to produce compensatory mechanisms to keep blood sugar levels from going out of control. With diabetes, stress can affect blood sugar levels in two ways:
Someone under stress may not take care of themselves by eating healthy, exercising and monitoring glucose levels.
Hormone surges from stress may affect blood sugar levels directly.
Those without diabetes, blood sugar rises from stress are followed by an increase in insulin to keep glucose under control. With diabetes, insulin is not secreted sufficiently during periods of increased stress. As a result, prolonged stress can have a significant increase in blood sugar levels. According to the American Diabetes Association, individuals with Type 2 diabetes often have raised blood sugar levels due to emotional stress. But physical stress, such as injury causes higher blood sugar levels among individuals with either type of diabetes.