Psychological Stress in Type 1 Diabetes.




Diabetes Care

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1
Professional Data: Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1


Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the beta cells in the pancreas do not release insulin. This is called an absolute insulin deficiency. This means that the individual has hyperglycemia and begins to break down their fats and protein in order to meet the energy demands of the body. This breakdown of fats and protein makes the insulin dependent diabetic build up waste products called ketone bodies, which causes a condition called ketoacidosis. Insulin dependent diabetics need a constant supply of insulin to prevent ketoacidosis and maintain a stable blood sugar.

Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in people younger than 30 years of age. It is thought that the disease is a caused by something in a person's family history (genetic factor) that responds abnormally to the beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans. Islet cell antibodies have been found in 60-95 percent of persons with type 1 diabetes. Sometimes this unusual response by the body can be started by a virus, a vaccination, or a toxic fungus.

A recent study published in the journal Diabetes Care investigated stress on glucose levels in those with Type 1 Diabetes. In the first study, 20 participants were exposed to stress while they were fasting. In the second study, the stress test was administered to another 20 participants 75 minutes after eating a standard meal. Researchers measured each groups’ blood pressure, glucose levels, and heart rate. These measurements were also taken before the beginning of this study (baseline). The results showed that blood pressure and heart rate increased in both groups after the stress test. In the fasting group, glucose levels remained unchanged at baseline and during the stress test. However, in the other group, a 45-minute delay occurred in the decrease of the glucose levels after the stress. The authors concluded that acute stress might delay the decrease of glucose levels in those with Type 1 Diabetes.1


1. Wiesli P, et al. Acute Psychological Stress Affects Glucose Concentrations in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes Following Food Intake but not in the Fasting State. Diabetes Care. August 2005;28;1910-5.