Stress can not only cause a headache or neck pain, if left unattended for long, can also trigger elevation in blood sugar levels leading to type 2 diabetes.
Owing to changes in lifestyle and daily routine, stress is now seen as a reason behind several health hazards, including the rise in diabetes in India.
‘Physical and emotional stress increase the level of several hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which increases blood sugar levels, leading to diabetes.’
Marked stress causes a release of several stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which, in turn, increase levels of sugar in blood apart from spiking blood pressure and pulse rate.
"If stress is consistently high, previously transient sugar elevation becomes persistently high, resulting in diabetes. Similarly, blood pressure elevation becomes elevated constantly. Stress also causes a change in eating pattern, resulting in 'binge eating', thus increasing weight which may also add to an elevation of blood sugar," said Dr. Anoop Misra, Chairman, Fortis C-DOC.
Stress can affect diabetes control, both directly and indirectly. It is widely recognised that people with diabetes are regularly stressed and are more likely to have poor blood glucose control.
"Both physical and emotional stress can prompt an increase in these hormones which result in an increase in blood sugar," said Dr. Sunil Mittal, senior psychiatrist and director, Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences in the capital.
Shared stress can also lead to similar dysregulation of hormones in children. If they are under constant stress in the home environment, children may have a similarly dysmetabolic state.
"According to recent findings, stress hormones cause an epigenetic change in sperm. So when a father is stressed out, his hormones pack the potential to raise his offspring's blood sugar levels. With higher blood glucose levels comes a higher diabetes risk, especially Type 2 diabetes," noted Dr. Ajay Kumar Ajmani, senior consultant (endocrinology) at BLK Super Speciality Hospital.
The primary function of these hormones is to raise blood sugar to help boost energy when it's needed the most.
Think of the fight-or-flight response. One possibly can't fight danger when their blood sugar is low, so it rises to help meet the challenge. Both physical and emotional stress can prompt an increase in these hormones, which results in an increase in blood sugar levels.
Making a few simple lifestyle changes can help combat and cope up with stress which reduces the risk of being diabetic or help to keep diabetes under control.
"One should do more of physical activities, like yoga, gymming and dancing. Aerobics and Pilates are great stress busters too. Make a few food changes like having a plenty of fibre and choosing whole grains. Avoid packaged foods and junk foods. Most importantly, take a break from your regular routine and plan some family outings," Ajmani suggested.
Diabetes is a lifestyle disorder and becoming increasingly common these days.
"Intermittent stress relief in small time frames several times of day (10-15 minutes each) may be acquired with chores that you enjoy the most like music or playing your favourite sports. Meditation helps a lot too," Misra added.