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Diseases & Conditions

Diabetes - Stress & Depression

You have been challenged with the diagnosis of diabetes. Whether it is a new diagnosis or a longstanding one, living with this challenge can trigger a flood of emotions. Some of these emotions can include:

  • Grief
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration
  • Disappointment

These emotions are natural responses and are experienced by many people, especially when they are first diagnosed with diabetes.

The initial response when diagnosed may resemble the stages of adjusting to a loss. The first response is denial ("It can’t be so," "I feel fine," "The test could be wrong," etc.). Next comes bargaining ("If I stop sweets, it will go away," "If I lose 40 pounds, it will go away"). Depression may follow ("I feel like I’ve been given a death sentence"). As you are supported through these stages, you will reach the final stage of acceptance ("I can control the diabetes and stay healthy").

During this process of adjusting, we applaud you for choosing to become the center of your health care team. The knowledge, skills, and support that you receive and deserve will help you to meet the challenges of living with diabetes.

What is stress?

Most people experience stress as an emotional or physical strain. It can result in worry, anxiety, and tension. Everyday events or changes in life may create stress. Stress affects everyone to some degree, but it may be more difficult to manage when people learn that they have diabetes.

Symptoms of stress can include:

  • Nervousness
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Stomach upset
  • Depression

Stress can make it more difficult to control your diabetes as it may throw off your daily routine and can result in wear and tear on your body. Hormones from stress increase your blood pressure, raise your heart rate, and can cause blood sugar to rise. High blood sugar can make you feel down or tired. Low blood sugar may result in your feeling upset or nervous.

How can I reduce stress in my life?

There are many things you can do to reduce stress. The following are some suggestions:

  • Take your medications as directed and eat healthy meals.
  • Use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing
  • Get some exercise. You can reduce stress though activities such as dancing, walking, or biking. Do something that you enjoy.
  • Share what you are going through with friends and family. If you talk about your problems, you can help to relieve your stress and perhaps solve those problems.
  • Remember to keep your sense of humor. Laughing helps to reduce stress.
  • Join a support group. You can meet people with problems similar to yours and make new friends.
  • Seek out professional help in order to talk about what’s troubling you.

There are additional strategies that you can use to help reduce stress in your life. Talk to your diabetes educator or doctor for more ideas.

Symptoms of depression

Too much stress sometimes can lead to depression. You may be at risk for depression if you have any of the following symptoms for more than a week:

  • Feeling sad or irritable
  • Having lost interest in activities you enjoy
  • Feeling worthless
  • Having a change in sleeping patterns
  • Feeling fatigued or like you have lost energy

Doctors can help to treat depression. Call your doctor if any of the above is a problem for you.

© Copyright 1995-2011 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 10/13/2011…#14891