Anxiety more common in people with diabetes

A recent study found that the incidence of anxiety disorders is almost double in people with diabetes than the general population. Diabetes, and diabetes Type II (DB II) in particular is a chronic preventable disease that has been associated with depression and obesity , but no studies have looked at associated of anxiety disorders and DBII.

What is anxiety? We feel anxious is because we anticipate a perceived threat. It is common to feel anxious about a job interview or an exam.  However feeling anxious and worrying habitually over ordinary things : – like getting to work on time, meeting people, going outside your neighbourhood , worrying about things you should have done or said. This kind of anxiety begins to interfere with our health and well-being and so our life.  In an anxious state people’s fight-flight body response is activated. This causes you heart rate to increase, your breathing may become shallow and more rapid, you become restless and hyper-vigilant. Your blood pressure increases and your liver releases glucose into you bloodstream to supply energy to your muscles in anticipation of moving away from danger. Your gut may decide to jettison its contents and this is why it is common to have diarrhea when we feel anxious.

Why is it  more common in people who also have diabetes?

When we are anxious and the flight-flight response is activated , our bodies use more stored energy. The loss of stored energy increasing craving for sugar and fats , otherwise known as comfort eating.  Anxiety may cause us to eat more processed high sugary foods, which we know if regularly eaten in excess can contribute to insulin resistance  and elevated glucose. These are both key markers of DBII. Secondly fat deposits can build up around the waist and this fat is bad for your health. It causes inflammation, insulin resistance and interferes with your metabolism. Obesity is strongly associated with DB II.

Another physiological change from chronically feeling anxious is the release of more cortisol into our bloodstream. Cortisol is hormone that activates the release of more glucose into the body for energy we need to flee. Unfortunately if cortisol is released for  repeatedly everyday for a long period this demands more and more insulin. Insulin is required everyday to get glucose into our cells, but  if our bodies are on  “full throttle” all day then eventually the functions that regulate healthy levels of insulin and glucose begin to weaken and we are at risk of developing DB II. These are two ways that chronic unresolved anxiety could be more common in people with DB II.


Results from Study

The prevalence of diabetes in patients with anxiety disorders was higher than that in the general population (11.89% vs. 5.92%, odds ratio, 1.23; 95% confidence interval, 1.17–1.28) in 2005. The average annual incidence of diabetes in patients with anxiety disorders was also higher than that in the general population (2.25% vs. 1.11%, risk ratio 1.34; 95% confidence interval, 1.28–1.41) from 2006 to 2010. Compared with the general population, patients with anxiety disorders revealed a higher incidence of diabetes in all age groups among both females and males.


The National Health Research Institute provided a database of 1,000,000 random subjects for study. We obtained a random sample aged 18 years and over 766,427 subjects in 2005. Those study subjects who had at least two primary or secondary diagnoses of anxiety disorders were identified. We compared the prevalence of diabetes in anxiety patients with the general population in 2005. Furthermore, we investigated this cohort from 2006 to 2010 to detect the incident cases of diabetes in anxiety patients compared with the general population.

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