EMOTIONS

DIABETES AND ANXIETY

Anxiety diabtees

Scientists from the Institute of Clinical Research at Duke University (North Carolina, USA) have conducted a study involving more than 100 adult diabetic patients. The results showed that the blood glucose levels of the patients significantly decreased after learning and applying techniques to manage their anxiety. This levels reduction was surprisingly so great as that obtained in patients taking medication to lower their glycemia.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a physiological response to an ambiguous or indefinite situation, where the threat is assumed or sensed, but is not well known. Usually it causes an internal conflict in the individual that is added to that diffuse apprehension which characterizes anxiety.

Anxiety must be distinguished from fear which is an unpleasant or disturbing feeling caused by the presence or imminence of concrete threat. Fear is an acute, short and fleeting sensation, which vanishes when the threat disappears.

Anxiety is a normal human emotion often accompanied by psychophysiological symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, tightness at the chest, trembling, feeling of choking, restlessness, a dry mouth and, many other phycosomatic symptoms.

Anxiety is a normal and healthy reaction

  • Anxiety makes us alert to threats and specific dangers, and prepares the body for action.
  • Anxiety helps us respond to crisis and prepares us to face new challenges.
  • Anxiety prompts us to plan, look for alternatives, rehearse our actions and prepare for negative results.

Normal Anxiety is usually controllable and does not normally affect the behavior of a person, but sometimes it can be so intense and lasting that it alters their perception of reality (we fear things that are not real). It can affect our ability of thinking, concentration, memory or alter our relationship with others.

Usually these changes are temporary and resolve once the individual faces the conflict situation.   But how do you know if your anxiety is healthy and normal? The three main signs of excessive anxiety are:

  • Persistent and unrealistic worry, far from commensurate with the actual danger.
  • Anxiety interferes with work, leisure and relationships.
  • Anxiety undermines the affective resolution of problems.

Anxiety treatment

The treatment for anxiety is focused on three areas:

  • Cognitive Therapy. Examines how negative thoughts, or cognitions, contribute to anxiety. The patient is asked to review and defend his thoughts or vision about his life and how he foresees the future. The therapist works with the patient to identify negative emotions that are causing distress, and employs behavioral therapy techniques to change these defeating thoughts.
  • Behavior Therapy. The objective is to promote physical activity, make life easier, and get enough sleep each night.
  • Relaxation Techniques. Relaxation can help to relieve the symptoms of stress.

On the other hand, exercise relieves anxiety in several ways:

  • Helps to get rid of excessive adrenaline, a hormone that participates in anxiety reactions.
  • Exercise increases the production of endorphins.
  • Exercise stretches different muscles in turn and then relaxes them, to release tension in the body.

Finally, if you are not a diabetic, you might prevent this condition by controlling your anxiety. However, if you already have diabetes start using the above therapies to adequately manage both anxiety and diabetes.

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About the author

Dr. Maritza Bendayan

Dr. Maritza Bendayan

Clinical psychologist with a specialization in Cognitive Psychotherapy. Maritza has more that 30 years of experience as part of a multidisciplinary team for the management of conduct, development and Child neurology; Endocrine-Pediatrics and Diabetes Obesity.