Reducing stress can improve health in type 2 diabetes

Patients with type 2 diabetes can improve their health status and lower depression by reducing stress, according to a study published in Diabetes Care.

Participants in the Heidelberger Diabetes and Stress-Study in Germany were assigned to either a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) intervention group or a normal treatment control group.

All participants were between age 30 to 70 years, had type 2 diabetes for at least 3 years, and had albuminuria, or protein in the urine.

At follow up after the first year, the MBSR group demonstrated improved health status and lower levels of depression compared with the control group. The intervention group also showed higher stress reduction than the control group.

Researchers determined that there were no significant differences in albuminuria between the two groups after one year of treatment.

“MBSR intervention achieved a prolonged reduction in psychosocial distress,” wrote the authors of the study.

Stress affects blood glucose
According to the American Diabetes Association, stress can affect blood glucose in two ways.

First, people under stress may not take good care of themselves and may neglect to check their glucose levels or plan healthy meals.

Second, stress hormones may alter blood glucose levels directly. Scientists have found that in people with type 2 diabetes, mental stress often raises blood glucose levels. Physical stress like illness or injury causes higher blood glucose levels in people with either type of diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

When stress occurs, the body prepares itself by producing higher levels of many hormones. This causes the body to make excess stored energy like glucose and fat available to cells.

For people with diabetes, insulin is not always able to let the extra energy into the cells. This results in excess glucose in the blood.

Patients can combat mental sources of mental stress by making lifestyle changes to alleviate stress. Making changes to a stressful job situation, patching up a troubled relationship, changing the daily routine can help. People can also engage in fun activities by starting a hobby or joining a sports team or social club.

People under stress can also adopt productive coping methods that help them better respond to stressful situations. For example, taking on a problem-solving attitude or accepting that a problem is less harmful than first thought are two effective ways of coping.

Learning to relax is another tactic for reducing stress. Breathing exercises, progressive relaxation therapy, exercise, and replacing bad thoughts with good ones can help.

Sources: Diabetes Care>/em>, American Diabetes Association

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