Email to Your Friends

Is Anxiety Increasing Your Diabetes Risk?

The Relationship Between Anxiety And Diabetes

Chronic anxiety can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes in both men and women. And this risk of developing insulin resistance increases with higher levels of anxiety and stress. Yoga is an effective way to lower anxiety levels and manage them better. It can also lower the levels of blood sugar and reduce dependence on medications.

Being diagnosed with 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.

Unchecked Stress And Anxiety Could Lead To Type 2 Diabetes

While anxiety can lead to type 2 diabetes, studies have found that people with diabetes are more prone to be anxious or stressed out. This is because insulin resistance, which occurs in type 2 diabetes, alters the release of dopamine, the “happy hormone,” in the brain.2

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.3

The Higher The Anxiety Levels, The Higher The Risk Of 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.4

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.5

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.6

Yoga Is Effective At Easing Stress And Anxiety

Regular yoga practice has been found to lower excessive blood sugar levels in people with non-insulin dependant (type 2) diabetes. It may also reduce your need for medications.7

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.8

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.9 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. Kleinridders, Andre, Weikang Cai, Laura Cappellucci, Armen Ghazarian, William R. Collins, Sara G. Vienberg, Emmanuel N. Pothos, and C. Ronald Kahn. “Insulin resistance in brain alters dopamine turnover and causes behavioral disorders.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2015): 201500877.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Yoga – Benefits Beyond the Mat. Harvard Health Publishing.
8. Yoga for anxiety and depression, Harvard Health Publications.
9. 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.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.