Managing Anxiety That Often Accompanies Diabetes

Studies show that individuals diagnosed with diabetes experience signs of anxiety more frequently than individuals who do not have diabetes. Anxiety in people with diabetes may be triggered by worry associated with:

  • Monitoring blood glucose levels
  • Managing weight
  • Eating a well-rounded diet
  • The possibility of developing short and/or long-term chronic health conditions associated with diabetes

Symptoms of anxiety often include:

  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Lethargy
  • Digestive issues, like constipation

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and have symptoms of anxiety, there are certain steps you can take to help ease the symptoms of anxiety.

Choose Tools That Will Help You Successfully Manage Blood Glucose Levels

If keeping a journal of your blood glucose readings overwhelms you, then there are tools available to help you keep track of your blood glucose readings. Touch screen insulin pumps are not only user-friendly but can allow users to track trends in blood glucose levels over a certain period of time by connecting to your continuous glucose monitoring device. The readings sent to your insulin pump can then be uploaded to your computer using a USB connection, making them easily accessible for later. There are even features that can predict blood sugar 30 minutes in advance, and adjust insulin dosing to help prevent low blood sugar.

Understanding trends in blood glucose readings allows you to visualize the bigger picture surrounding your blood glucose levels, recognize any trends, and help you analyze what parts of your diabetes management plan are effective and which parts need to be changed.

Collaborate with a Registered Dietitian

A registered dietitian works with you to look at your current eating habits and help you understand if any of them could be contributing to your symptoms of anxiety.

General guidelines for eating a well-rounded diet to ease anxiety are the same given to patients diagnosed with diabetes, including eating a diet rich in vegetables and choosing whole grains over refined grains. Some additional recommendations include:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Never skipping a meal
  • Limiting caffeine consumption

Furthermore, certain foods have been found to reduce symptoms of anxiety due to the vitamins and/or minerals they contain. These foods include those that are rich in:

  • Magnesium, like leafy greens
  • Zinc, like cashews
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon
  • Probiotics, like sauerkraut and kimchi
  • Vitamin B, like avocado
  • Antioxidants, like beans, nuts, turmeric, and ginger

Find Exercise You Enjoy and Participate Regularly

Exercise has a significant impact on anxiety symptoms and studies have shown that individuals who exercise regularly experience fewer symptoms of anxiety.1 Even just five minutes of aerobic exercise, like walking or dancing, can start to alleviate these symptoms. In fact, certain studies have even found that exercise works just as well as medication for some individuals.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults follow these guidelines every week:

  • Two and a half hours of moderate exercise
  • One hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous exercise
  • A combination of both moderate and vigorous exercise2

Work with a Mental Health Professional

If you’re having trouble concentrating at work, difficulty sleeping, or experiencing any other symptoms that are negatively affecting your daily life, consider working with a mental health professional. Your healthcare provider will work with you to understand the root of your anxiety and can provide solutions such as emotional and psychological support. Additionally, they can refer you to additional therapies, like meditation or yoga, to help alleviate anxiety.

1. Elizabeth Anderson E and Shivakumar G. Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2013; 4: 27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632802/.

2. Physical Activity Guidelines – Adults. The Department of Health and Human Services. https://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter4.aspx. Publication date unavailable. Updated July 23, 2018. Accessed July 23, 2018.

SOURCES:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4999621/

https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/with-anxiety#treatment

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-strategies-to-ease-anxiety-201604139441

 

https://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter4.aspx

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