Managing stress is key to successfully treating type 2 diabetes

When people think about diabetes, they normally consider the physiological aspects of the condition. It causes unregulated blood sugar, which can lead to complications in organs throughout the body - all physical issues. But there is a strong mental component to type 2 diabetes that often gets overlooked.

Given the need for frequent blood sugar testing and medications, the condition is generally near the front of diabetics' minds. Barely an hour can pass without it playing a role in some kind of consideration. Therefore, it is no surprise that diabetics often report high levels of stress and anxiety. Additionally, they have higher rates of depression than the general pubic.

Overlooking the mental impact of type 2 diabetes can be a major mistake. Dealing with the condition should mean more than just controlling blood sugar levels. Proper disease management should take into consideration the mental and the physical effects of diabetes.

One way to handle the stress and anxiety that often results from the condition may be to participate in yoga classes. A recent study published in the journal Diabetes Care showed that individuals who practiced yoga on a regular basis were much more likely to have well-controlled blood sugar.

Certified yoga therapist Carol Dunaway told the Holland Sentinel that this is likely because there is a strong link between the body and the mind. A person's thoughts can have a profound impact on their physical condition.

"We know that every thought or feeling produces a chemical reaction in the body and brain, and every movement of the body produces a corresponding chemical reaction in the brain," she told the news source. "So our thoughts via our mind and our bodies affect brain chemistry, which in turn affects our body chemistry, like insulin production and cortisol production."

She added that stress management is critical to diabetes control. When a person feels anxious, their body produces higher levels of the hormone cortisol. This molecule raises the body's ability to respond quickly to situations, but over time it can cause inflammation. Inflammation is known to diminish insulin sensitivity and is thought to increase the risk of heart disease.

This may put individuals with type 2 diabetes at an even greater risk of developing health complications that pose a serious danger to their well-being. Relatively few individuals die directly from diabetes. Instead, conditions like heart disease and kidney failure end up causing mortality. Stress can make these conditions more likely.

Furthermore, stress is one of the leading causes of depression. The American Diabetes Association states that depression presents a dangerous situation to diabetics, as the mental disorder may cause them to become less interested in managing their condition. This further increases the risk of complications.

Therefore, managing the mental stress that often accompanies type 2 diabetes may be just as important as controlling blood sugar or any of the other physical aspects of the condition.