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Stress and diabetes

What comes first? The stress or the diabetes?

We are widely aware of many of the physical and behavioural risk factors linked with diabetes. What we don’t talk about enough is the link between stress and emotional wellbeing on both the development and the management of diabetes.

Stress can be described as feelings of being overloaded, wound-up, tense or worried

It can be acute (short-term), recurrent, or chronic (long-term). All types of stress can negatively affect our life. For people already living with diabetes, mental health and emotional wellbeing are factors that can affect blood glucose levels.

Stress, both short and long term, releases hormones into our body that cause a rise in blood glucose levels

Stress can also make it harder for a person to self-manage their diabetes: it can affect the decisions we make about food and exercise, affect sleep and how often we test blood glucose levels and take medications. The frequency of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety among people with diabetes is higher than in people without diabetes. These are issues that are often overlooked but important to include as part of routine diabetes self-management.

For people not living with diabetes, evidence suggests that perceived stress can affect glucose metabolism (impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes). High levels of tension and/or low levels of joy are the key issues that affect glucose levels. This has been found to affect women more than men. That is not to say that stress doesn’t increase a man’s risk of diabetes. Other studies have found that for males, work-related stress in particular has been associated with the development of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

So what is it about stress that increases risk of diabetes?

There are no absolute answers in this area just yet, but we can assume that stress, however we experience it, can affect the choices that we make. It can affect choices such as the food we eat, how we move our body, our sleep and beyond. We want to recognise issues earlier and address them as soon as possible.

Related information sheets

Read the original article

Click here to read the original article. Published in Diabetes SA Living Magazine – November 2017, page 14.

Additional information 



Health Professional Seminar – Latest Evidence with a Person-Centred Care Approach

The NDSS and Diabetes SA Health Professional Seminar, 'Latest Evidence with a Person-Centred Care Approach’ was conducted in the beautiful Adelaide Convention Centre City Rooms 1 & 2 on Friday 25 May 2018.

Associate Professor Richard Young, Senior Research Fellow within the Discipline of Medicine, University of Adelaide, based at the South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

Associate Professor Young presented the current research on the effect of sweeteners on the gastrointestinal system and glucose absorption and the overall impact on diabetes management.

Dr Ana McCarthy is a final-year Advanced Physician Trainee in Endocrinology and Metabolism.

She is currently the Obstetric Medicine Registrar in the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network (based at Lyell McEwin Hospital). Dr McCarthy presented on current medications and new technologies. Ana presented up to date information on continuous glucose monitoring devices and how they benefit and assist in the daily management of diabetes.

Dr Christel Hendrieckx is in a research position at the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes (a partnership between Diabetes Victoria and Deakin University).

Dr Hendrieckx presented on the question ‘Do you need to be a psychologist to provide psychological care?’. As the author of ‘Diabetes and emotional health: A handbook for health professionals supporting adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes’, Dr Hendrieckx discussed the use of this valuable resource in supporting adults living with diabetes.

Tal Ellis is the Healthcare Homes Practice Facilitator from Adelaide Primary Health Network.

Tal informed us about the new Health Care Homes service model that provides targeted and effective coordination of clinical resources aimed at meeting the needs of people with chronic conditions. Health Care Homes is a transformative approach to caring for people with Chronic Disease in a primary health or general practice settings.


A general consensus on the day was the benefit of updated evidence enabling health professionals to support people living with diabetes to be informed in their own care. We were able to inform on new research and up-to-date information for diabetes care and management. With a person-centred care focus we aim to assist you as health professionals to ensure people with diabetes are informed with the latest information and are involved in all aspects of their own ongoing care.

Click here to see more photos.






The National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) is an initiative of the Australian Government administered with the assistance of Diabetes Australia.


What is the difference between type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes?


Diabetes: Know Your Type

As part of National Diabetes Week, Diabetes SA focused on increasing the awareness and greater understanding of diabetes and its different types. Diabetes SA has developed information resource called 'Diabetes: Know Your Type'.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body's own immune system has attacked the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. The pancreas can no longer produce insulin when this occurs. Although often diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, it can occur at any age.

How is it managed?

  • Administering insulin by injections or a pump will help to manage blood glucose levels. The amount of insulin required will constantly need to be reviewed.
  • Eating well, moving regularly and monitoring blood glucose levels are also important to stay well and manage type 1 diabetes. It's a big job!

How can it be prevented?

  • Currently type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented or cured.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the insulin being produced does not work effectively (this is called insulin resistance). Although often diagnosed in adulthood, more and more children and teens are being diagnosed.

How is it managed?

  • Eating well, focusing on carbohydrate serving sizes, monitoring blood glucose levels and staying active is important. Some people will also require medications or insulin to manage blood glucose levels.
  • Using insulin DOES NOT mean a person with type 2 becomes a person with type 1 diabetes.

How can it be prevented?

  • In many people, type 2 diabetes can be prevented or its onset delayed with regular exercise, healthy eating, not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight.

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM)

GDM occurs during pregnancy when the pregnancy hormones block the action of insulin. This leads to insulin resistance and high blood glucose levels.

How is it managed?

  • Eating well for pregnancy, focusing on carbohydrate serving sizes, blood glucose monitoring and moving regularly are all important factors. Some women will also require insulin to maintain blood glucose levels within their target ranges.

How can it be prevented?

  • Many women CANNOT prevent GDM.
  • However, women can reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy weight before getting pregnant and during pregnancy, healthy eating and doing regular physical activity. 

More information resources


Your support can help fund life-changing research for people like Eliza

Despite being fit and healthy, there are days Eliza struggles to wake up. She worries the weakness is just the start.

Type 1 diabetes is affecting twice as many people from her generation as the one before. Eliza wants it to stop.

DSA-Digital-WEBs-250px-2ABy donating today, and supporting diabetes research, you can help us discover what's behind the alarming rise in type 1 diabetes.

Donate today

Looking fit and healthy, Eliza's appearance hides the daily struggle her body faces.

It's not obvious how much she is dependent on daily medication, or measuring her food intake. It can be hard to see how much diabetes affects the people living with it—but living with a progressive, chronic condition, which can reduce both quantity and quality of life, and requires daily self-care, is tough.

Since being diagnosed at 9, Eliza has stayed positive, continuing to travel and play the sports she loves. But, having a chronic condition is hard.

'There are times still that I wake up and wish I didn't have to deal with this. I wish I didn't have to monitor everything that I eat, that it's so stressful.'

During a particularly difficult period, Eliza would struggle to wake up.

'I went through about 6-month period of not waking up in the morning. My parents found me half unconscious, not waking up, that was scary. I have a fear of not waking.'

It's why Eliza hopes you will help our researchers find a way to make it stop.

Donate today

Research is our best hope.

And, with the rate of type 1 diabetes increasing at an alarming level, and children being diagnosed younger and younger, Dr Rebecca Thomson is determined to find answers.

DSA-Digital-WEBs-250px-1ADr Thomson is one of 70 researchers who are currently studying why more and more children are being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She's investigating whether something environmental—such as certain food exposures —could be behind this alarming rise.

It's a complicated project, and finding answers won't be easy.

She explains: 'You need to know why it's happening in the first place, before you can stop what's causing it. It's a complex question.'

To find these answers, Dr Thomson and her colleagues are focusing on babies and children who have a close relative with type 1 diabetes—a parent or sibling. She explains: 'It's a global trend, and we need to understand what's causing it.'

Research such as this is vital to helping prevent type 1 diabetes. Eventually, the hope is that research will discover a cure, so people like Eliza can live a life free from the daily maintenance and increased risks her chronic condition causes.

Please show your support for diabetes research, so we can help researchers like Dr Thomson continue their vital work, and give hope to every young person with type 1 diabetes, that a cure may one day be possible.

Your donation to this important appeal can help prevent more children from ever hearing the words, 'you have type 1 diabetes.'

Donate today


2018 National Diabetes Week

NDW18National Diabetes Week (8 – 14 July 2018) aims to raise the awareness of diabetes in the community. Diabetes is Australia's fastest growing chronic condition and there are more than 106,000 South Australians diagnosed with diabetes.

National Diabetes Week Resource Pack 2018

As part of National Diabetes Week 2018, Diabetes SA will be focusing on increasing awareness of the importance of person-centred care for optimal diabetes management. As part of the awareness campaign, Diabetes SA has some resources available for all health professionals to download and order.

The National Diabetes Week Resource kit this year will include A3 promotional posters, 'AUSDRISK Tool,' and NDSS factsheets on 'Adjusting to life with diabetes'and 'Your diabetes and annual cycle of care'.

Request your pack today!

If you are a health professional that works with people living with diabetes, to request a National Diabetes Week resource kit, email Diabetes SA today on  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


ausdrisk tool

Are you at risk of type 2 diabetes? The Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment (AUSDRISK) Tool is a quick test for people to assess their own risk of type 2 diabetes.

The AUSDRISK Tool can be used to test your family and friends to see if they are at risk as there are quite a few people walking around with diabetes and may not realise.

Click here to download the AUSDRISK Tool.

Adjusting to life with diabetes


The diagnosis of diabetes can come as a shock. First reactions may be disbelief, sadness, anger, or self-blame. Usually, these feelings ease after a while and diabetes becomes part of life. Sometimes, these feelings don't go away easily. If you feel this way, you are not alone. There are many things you can do to fit diabetes into your life.

Click here to download your copy of the Adjusting to life with diabetes factsheet.

Your diabetes and annual cycle of care


It is important to do an annual cycle of care to identify any health concerns early and discuss the best treatment with your doctor and diabetes health professionals. Without regular checks, diabetes can lead to complications that can affect your whole body, including your kidneys, eyes, feet, nerves and heart. 

Click here to download your copy of the Your diabetes and annual cycle of care factsheet.

National Diabetes Week Seminar — Person-Centred Care

As part of National Diabetes Week this year, Diabetes SA is holding a Seminar for people registered with the NDSS and their families on Saturday 7 July which will focus on 'Person-Centred Care'.

Click here to find out more.


Diabetes SA Kids Camp

Diabetes SA held their annual Kids Camp for children with type 1 diabetes aged 10 – 12 years, at Mylor Baptist Camp on Saturday 5 to Sunday 6 May 2018.

The campers learnt that there are no barriers to living with type 1 diabetes, and enjoyed activities such as flying fox, giants swing, low ropes course and canoeing.

For 28 of the 32 children it was their first time at camp, giving their parents a much-deserved break, and the campers the opportunity to meet others also living with type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes SA cannot run these camps without the cooperation of staff, volunteers, leaders and kids – so a big THANK YOU goes out to everyone that was involved – you made it yet again a very memorable experience for everyone, especially the children!

Thank you

We recently received a very generous donation from the Lions Blackwood Club for $1,000 to support camps, for which we are very grateful.





Click here to see more photos.

Additional information


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