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Fear and Anxiety

by IBD Medical on July 25, 2023

Fear and anxiety can have a profound impact on individuals with diabetes, affecting their daily routines, professional lives and diabetes management. In this article we explain the connection between fear, anxiety, and diabetes including diabetes management.  


What is Fear and Anxiety?

Fear and anxiety are natural responses to stressful situations.

While fear is a response to immediate threats, anxiety involves persistent worry and anticipation of future events.


How is Diabetes Related to Fear and Anxiety?

Fear and anxiety are intertwined with diabetes in various ways. Fear can be related to different experiences such as fear of needles or fear of judgement from others. Fear often arises from the immediate risks associated with diabetes, such as hypoglycaemic episodes or complications. Recurring and prolonged experiences of fear can lead to hyper vigilance, excessive worry, and overly cautious and restrictive behaviour.  Excessive worry, hyper vigilance and overly cautious behaviour are all symptoms associated with anxiety.

Anxiety can be thought of as persistent concerns about the future, impacting long-term self-care and decision-making. Fear may be triggered by specific diabetes-related events, while anxiety can be more generalised. Both emotions can affect blood sugar control, social interactions, and work performance. Addressing fear and anxiety is vital for holistic diabetes care and overall well-being.


What are the Symptoms of Fear and Anxiety in Diabetes?

Fear and anxiety can have significant consequences on diabetes management. Heightened stress levels can trigger hormonal responses, leading to elevated blood glucose levels. In contrast, anxiety-induced lack of appetite or emotional eating may result in unstable blood sugar levels. Additionally, fear and anxiety can lead to avoidance behaviours, such as skipping blood sugar checks or medical appointments, which further compromise affective diabetes management.


Symptoms of Fear in Diabetes Management:

  1. Fear of putting on a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) patch due to discomfort, pain, or fear of skin irritation.
  2. Fear of administering insulin injections or using an insulin pump, potentially stemming from fear of needles or concerns about injection site reactions.
  3. Fear of all carbohydrates or specific types of food, leading to restrictive eating habits or fear of hyperglycaemia.
  4. Fear of experiencing hypoglycaemic episodes, resulting in constant worry about blood sugar dropping too low.
  5. Fear of diabetes-related complications, such as retinopathy, neuropathy, or kidney disease.
  6. Fear of death.

Symptoms of Anxiety in Diabetes Management:

  1. Constant preoccupation with diabetes management, leading to excessive worry and overthinking.
  2. Persistent anxiety about maintaining optimal blood sugar control and the fear of unpredictable fluctuations.
  3. Generalised anxiety about managing diabetes in social settings or public spaces, fearing judgment or feeling self-conscious.
  4. Anxiety-driven avoidance of activities or situations that may disrupt blood sugar control, such as exercise or travel.
  5. Persistent concern about long-term health outcomes, including the development of complications, leading to heightened anxiety.
  6. Sleep anxiety including fear of complications developing during the night or fear of not getting enough sleep and being tired the next day. This can lead to hyper vigilance around sleep which can reduce sleep quality and overall well-being.  (If you'd like to read more about diabetes and sleep browse our education and support section on the website which has various articles about this topic). 



How Does Fear and Anxiety Impact Your Daily & Professional life? 

Fear and anxiety related to diabetes can significantly impact daily and professional life. Here are some points highlighting their effects:

Daily Life:

  1. Disrupted diabetes management due to preoccupation with worry.
  2. Difficulty adhering to medication regimens, monitoring blood glucose, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Heightened worry about hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia, leading to constant checking and over-treating.
  4. Social withdrawal and avoidance of situations that may affect diabetes management which can lead to low mood due to social isolation. 
  5. Increased stress levels effecting blood sugar control and overall well-being.

Professional Life:

  1. Reduced work productivity due to diabetes-related anxiety.
  2. Impaired concentration, focus, and decision-making abilities.
  3. Need for frequent breaks to check blood sugar levels.
  4. Potential impact on career advancement and job performance due to distractibility and nervousness.  

It's important for individuals with diabetes to seek support from healthcare professionals, diabetes educators, and mental health providers who can help address the fear and anxiety associated with the condition. Developing coping strategies, practicing stress management techniques, and receiving appropriate education and emotional support can contribute to better diabetes management and overall well-being and in many cases reduce anxiety about poor health outcomes. 


The content of this Website or Blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website or Blog.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 (in the US) or 000 (in Australia) immediately, call your doctor, or go to the emergency room/urgent care.



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