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The Effects of Work Stress on Blood Sugar and Diabetes

Updated: May 7, 2023

As someone who has witnessed the effects of work-related stress on my clients, I decided to delve deeper into the topic of how stress can affect blood sugar levels and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. My personal experiences with two clients further highlight the complexity of this issue.


One client, in his 30s, has no close family history of diabetes but has been struggling with high blood sugar levels. Meanwhile, my other client, who is in his 50s and has a genetic predisposition for developing diabetes, has yet to experience any blood sugar issues. Although this is not a scientific observation of an experiment, it is clear that stress can have varying effects on different individuals when you dig in to research.


The Role of Cortisol


Research has shown that stress can cause the body to release cortisol, a hormone that increases glucose levels in the bloodstream through a process called gluconeogenesis. This can be beneficial in the short term, allowing the body to respond to short term stressful situations. However, chronic stress for long periods can lead to chronically high cortisol levels, resulting in sustained high blood sugar levels that can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.


It’s like you are in a fight or flight situation where you need extra sugar supply for the muscles. And that supply is delivered for longer than needed.


Insulin Resistance


Another way that chronic stress can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is through insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body regulate blood sugar levels by facilitating glucose uptake into cells. However, chronic stress can cause insulin receptors on cells to become less sensitive to the effects of insulin.

This can lead to the body requiring more insulin to facilitate glucose uptake, resulting in chronically high insulin levels in the bloodstream. Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance, making it more difficult for the body to regulate blood sugar levels.


Inflammatory Response


Stress can also lead to an increase in inflammation in the body, which can contribute to insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes. Pro-inflammatory cytokines, immune system signaling molecules, are released in response to stress. While helpful in the short term, chronic stress can lead to sustained inflammation, which can contribute to insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes.


Managing Work Stress


Although stress can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, it is important to remember that everyone responds to stress differently. Some individuals may be more susceptible to the effects of stress, while others may be more resilient. Therefore, it is crucial to find ways to manage work-related stress through exercise, mindfulness, and seeking support from friends, family, or professional resources when needed. By taking steps to manage stress, we can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improve our overall health and well-being.


There is scientific evidence to suggest that chronic stress may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. However, it is important to note that stress is just one of several factors that can contribute to the development of the condition.


There have been a number of scientific studies examining the relationship between stress and type 2 diabetes. For example, a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine in 2005 found that individuals who reported experiencing chronic stress had a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes over a four-year period compared to those who did not report chronic stress.


Another study published in the journal Diabetes Care in 2006 found that stress was associated with impaired glucose regulation, which is a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. The study involved 111 overweight or obese individuals with impaired glucose regulation who were randomized to either a stress management intervention or a control group. The stress management group showed significant improvements in glucose regulation compared to the control group.


Additionally, a study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology in 2013 found that individuals who reported experiencing stress in their daily lives had higher levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, and higher levels of insulin resistance, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.


While these studies suggest a link between stress and the development of type 2 diabetes, it is important to note that stress is just one of many factors that can contribute to the development of the condition. Other factors, such as genetics, diet, and physical activity level, also play important roles in the development of type 2 diabetes.


In conclusion, while stress can have negative effects on blood sugar levels and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, it is important to remember that managing stress, among other risk factors, is crucial to reducing this risk. By identifying effective ways to manage stress, we can improve our overall health and well-being, and potentially reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


The psychological therapeutic approach of stress and anxiety with HIC & RTT is the fastest way to handle anxiety and stress in a long lasting way and quickly.


I’m Dr.Dee, and feel free to book a free 15 min call to find out more on how we can help you to reverse your blood sugar levels by desensitizing your inappropriate stress response.


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