Is Anxiety Increasing Your Diabetes Risk?


4 Min Read

Anxiety disorders and general anxiety around life changes, financial trouble, family problems, and relationships are rife today. It is something you might even take as par for the course with 21st-century living. But if someone told you that your anxiety issues may also spill over into your physical and metabolic health, causing diabetes, would that change things? With some researchers uncovering links between anxiety issues and diabetes, it may be time to take charge and find a way to nip your anxiety problem in the bud.

Having a metabolic disorder or problem like diabetes can make a person understandably concerned, even anxious. But what if your anxiety itself could lead to diabetes, or worsen your condition if you’re already diabetic? Some studies find that this might, in fact, be the case.

According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, a sizable 40 percent of all people with diabetes have some anxiety symptoms, while 14 percent have actually been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.1 While it is widely accepted that poor blood sugar control in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes causes anxiety, there is now evidence that anxiety itself could bring on diabetes in some people.

Unholy Trinity: Stress, Anxiety, And Diabetes

For years, even centuries now, theories on how diabetes is more common among those with more stressful or sorrowful lives have done the rounds. Dr. W. Menninger, an American psychiatrist, went so far as to suggest there was a typical “diabetic personality.” As one review of multiple studies found, chronic emotional stress is a well-known risk factor in the occurrence of depression. Later studies have also established a link between type 2 diabetes and depression. The sequence of stress triggering anxiety and physical symptoms, which then spiral into depression if left unchecked, and eventually leading to diabetes for some – this pattern is now being studied in earnest.2

Evidence Of Stress- And Anxiety-Triggered Diabetes

Stress in itself can manifest as a sense of panic or anxiety, even body aches, among other things. According to the Copenhagen City Heart Study, signs of stress can be a risk factor for diabetes. Researchers found that men who were very stressed were about twice as likely to see diabetes in follow-ups in the years after the long-term study began. This pattern wasn’t, however, found in women.3

A later study in Japan revealed a similar connect when individuals between 40 and 69 years of age were studied for a decade. As stress levels increased, diabetes risk too increased. Again, this was more pronounced in the case of the men in the study.4

So, can anxiety be a predictor of diabetes? It appears that anxiety itself, along with depression, is a significant risk factor for the incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus among both men and women. As some researchers concluded, this is independent of lifestyle factors and socioeconomic factors which are now accepted as key precursors to metabolic syndrome. In fact, they went so far as to conclude that anxiety and depression comorbidity might even emerge as the single most important factor in the syndrome and, by extension, in the onset of diabetes. They found no differences between the genders for this phenomenon.5

Using Yoga To Deal With Anxiety

To prevent your stress from escalating into a full-blown anxiety problem, you need to nip the problem in the bud. Alternative therapy including yoga can be especially useful. Controlled breathing techniques like sudarshan kriya yoga (SKY) offer those with depression relief from their symptoms. Yoga has also been seen to be useful for improving general mood and well-being.6

As one group of women found, a three-month yoga program helped with their anxiety, stress, depression, and general fatigue problems. Anxiety scores showed an improvement of as much as 30 percent and depression of 50 percent.7 By keeping these emotional and psychological problems in check, you should be able to limit the risk from these on your metabolic health, thus lowering the chances of developing diabetes from anxiety- and depression-related causes.

References   [ + ]

1.Anxiety, Canadian Diabetes Association.
2.Pouwer, Frans, Nina Kupper, and Marcel C. Adriaanse. “Does emotional stress cause type 2 diabetes mellitus? A review from the European Depression in Diabetes (EDID) Research Consortium.” Discovery medicine 9, no. 45 (2010): 112-118.
3.Rod, Naja Hulvej, M. Grønbaek, P. Schnohr, E. Prescott, and T. S. Kristensen. “Perceived stress as a risk factor for changes in health behaviour and cardiac risk profile: a longitudinal study.” Journal of internal medicine 266, no. 5 (2009): 467-475.
4.KATo, M. A. S. A. Y. U. K. I., M. I. T. S. U. H. I. K. O. NoDA, M. A. N. A. M. I. INoue, T. A. K. A. S. H. I. KADowAKI, and Shoichiro Tsugane. “Psychological factors, coffee and risk of diabetes mellitus among middle-aged Japanese: a population-based prospective study in the JPHC study cohort.” Endocrine journal 56, no. 3 (2009): 459-468.
5.Engum, Anne. “The role of depression and anxiety in onset of diabetes in a large population-based study.” Journal of psychosomatic research 62, no. 1 (2007): 31-38.
6.Yoga for anxiety and depression, Harvard Health Publications.
7.Michalsen, Andreas, Paul Grossman, Ayhan Acil, Jost Langhorst, Rainer Lüdtke, Tobias Esch, George Stefano, and Gustav Dobos. “Rapid stress reduction and anxiolysis among distressed women as a consequence of a three-month intensive yoga program.” Medical Science Monitor 11, no. 12 (2005): CR555-CR561.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.