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  • Five Tips to Help with Anxiety Symptoms Related to Diabetes

    If you are a diabetic on insulin, most likely you have felt some anxiety related to low blood sugar or aka a hypo episode. I bet you are wondering why anxiety occurs, anxiety meaning thoughts or body response. 

    Biologically when our blood sugar drops below 70mg/dL on your meter or continuous glucose monitor your body is going to start to respond. How our bodies respond to a low blood sugar include, feeling shaky, nervous, or anxious, sweaty, chills, clamminess, irritability, confusion, fast heartbeat, feeling lighted headed, hungry, nauseas, feeling sleepy or weak.

    Sometimes we also can have trouble walking, feel a headache or have blurred vision. Your body is telling you need to eat and eat something with sugar to bring your sugar levels back to normal.

    For those of us on insulin having a hypo episode is much more common. What is also occurring biologically is a dump of adrenaline to give us energy to get to some food. When we feel some or all these symptoms of a hypo episode, this can cause anxiety. The anxiety and fear can look like watching our CMG have a double arrow down and an alert or we just feel off and check our blood sugar and see a 70 or below. Just the number can cause anxiety because we know what is coming. No one wants to feel uncomfortable and if we have experience any of these symptoms before, we certainly want to avoid feeling them again, which can also cause anxiety.

    When we are talking about anxiety, we cannot avoid the thoughts that can go through our head. The rapid and panicky thoughts of… I need food, I need sugar, I need to sit down, I feel scared, what is going on, why cannot my blood sugar just stay in the normal range and why is this happening to me? These thoughts are common when we see the low number or hear an alert.

    I am here to tell you; you are not alone if you are having these thoughts or ones similar. The biological symptoms and the thoughts that we as diabetics have can be exhausting. This is one of the reasons why being diabetic can be so exhausting mentally and physically. It feels constant sometimes.

    Let’s talk about the 5 tips to reduce anxiety.

    Tip 1     Begin to learn to slow your breathing and heart rate. Make sure your chest is open and try to begin to slow your breathing one breath at a time.

    Tip 2     Carry snacks or juice with you in your purse or work bag to reduce trying to find some food when you have a hypo episode. I like to have a pouch in my purse to carry a variety of snacks that are healthy like a granola bar. I do carry candy which sometimes can be a quicker way to get your sugars back into the normal range.

    Tip 3     Make a list of your favorite snacks or candies that you can put into your purse or work bag. Plan for your week ahead.

    Tip 4     Also have at your desk some snacks or candy that you can grab if you have a hypo episode.

    Tip 5     Begin to build a support network of fellow diabetics. You can learn from others and make their suggestions your own. A support network can make all the difference when you need additional support, especially from those that can relate and know how you feel.

    My group coaching program is a great place to start building that network. For more information check out my website, www.diabetestateofmind.com and look out for more information coming soon!

     If you would like a or coaching consultation, please email me at [email protected]

     Jennifer Martin-Schantz, PsyD