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There are two types major of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Both are metabolic diseases, where the body does not produce enough or use enough insulin. Insulin is used by the body to process sugar and carbohydrates. Type 1 diabetes was previously known as “juvenile diabetes” because so many cases started in young people. It is a life-long condition, but can be managed.
Type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1 and, in some cases, reversible. It can be triggered by obesity, so when the person loses weight, the diabetes can subside. Not all type 2 diabetes is caused by weight and inactivity, however.
Studies have found that anxiety and depression were higher in people with type 2 diabetes. Related, another study found that anxiety symptoms were more prevalent in a population with a high body mass index. There might be a simple correlation, such as someone anxious and depressed is likely to overeat and body fat makes it difficult for the body to regulate insulin.
Furthermore, one of the indicators of low blood sugar in a diabetic is rising anxiety levels. If the diabetic suddenly feels or starts acting anxious, often without a focus, it is time to check insulin levels as they are probably low.
Anxiety Diabetics Face
Unlike some diseases where the doctors and fate hold all the control, a diabetic patient is largely responsible for controlling diabetes and its symptoms; this responsibility can be stressful. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to blindness, loss of a limb, or death. Perfectly controlled diabetes can still deteriorate the body.
Most diabetes can be controlled with diet and exercise, which can be difficult to maintain, especially when away from the home. Diabetes can cause anxiety over social interactions as well such as when and where to take the injections before a meal, not being able to partake of communal food such as cake during a celebration, etc. The worry about a low blood sugar incident can cause anxiety in the diabetic. They may feel their blood sugar dropping, but then feelings of anxiety might make it difficult stay in control long enough to test their blood and administer the insulin.
People often regard type 2 diabetes as a voluntary condition brought on by an unhealthy lifestyle. While this might be true, there are also genetic factors that could lead to type 2 diabetes, as well as related medical issues such as a thyroid problem that can lead to excessive weight gain.
People who are not accustomed to diabetics might have anxiety about being in a diabetic's company, afraid they might fall into a coma or have some other incident they can’t handle. Non-diabetics might be anxious about observing the diabetic self-administer a shot, often in the belly.
Diabetics need to be especially cautious when taking medicine to treat their anxiety. Anti-anxiety medications can affect blood sugar levels and might also interact with other medications a diabetic takes. Specifically, beta blockers (used for hypertension) should be avoided by diabetics. Some diabetics have found that anti-anxiety medications can cause them to be hungry or crave sweets, both of which are detrimental to a diabetic. A side effect of tricyclic antidepressants can be weight gain--again, not a benefit for a diabetic. Furthermore, some medications diabetics take might actually cause anxiety. Glipizide/Metformin has been accused of causing anxiety as has Repaglinide, if improperly dosed.
As with any medication, diabetics should consult with and be monitored by an medical doctor, preferably one who is familiar with both diabetes and anxiety. Be aware of and report any side effects immediately.