Can High Blood Sugar Cause Anxiety?

If you have a chronic disease such as diabetes, do you often get anxious and stressed out? Have you ever pondered over “can high blood sugar cause anxiety?”

Diabetes is typically a manageable metabolic disorder, however, it can result in anxiety. For some people, concerns related to daily blood glucose level monitoring, long term health effects can create added stress. 

Read on to find out more about the association between high blood sugar and anxiety and if anxiety can result in high blood sugar levels as well. 

Can high blood sugar cause anxiety? 

Yes, it is most likely to be true that high blood sugar can cause anxiety symptoms. It could be believed that there is a strong link between them.

Through several researches and scientific studies, it has been consistently found the strong link between diabetes and anxiety. 

Diabetes, anxiety symptoms and panic attack do share similar symptoms. High blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) can cause a person to be worried and anxious regarding his health and many other factors. 

At least one study uncovered the link between glycemic index and mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, etc. 

In another research, it was found out that diabetic Americans are more likely to be experiencing anxiety and panic attacks as compared to non-diabetics. 

However, in another research, diabetic-specific emotional stress was found out to be more likely the reason for anxiety in the hyperglycemic patient.

Can anxiety cause high blood sugar?

Yes! Stress and anxiety may play a role in causing high glucose levels in the blood. It has been reported that those who had frequent symptoms of anxiety and stress, their blood sugar levels were quite high. 

In recent research, it was found out that anxiety can be a significant factor for developing hyperglycemia. 

How and why does anxiety cause high blood sugar can be due to the hormonal change during stressful conditions. 

When we are stressed or face a distressing situation, our body goes into fight-and-flight mode and stress hormones are released in the blood. Cortisol, the main stress hormone is diabetogenic, causing the blood sugar levels to rise. 

Moreover, epinephrine (adrenaline), growth hormone, and glucagon are also released during stressful conditions and anxiety. They also may be responsible for the high blood sugar levels during anxiety. 

Can diabetes cause anxiety and depression? 

If you’re diabetic and having an anxiety attack or going through depression, your high sugar levels could possibly be the culprit behind it. Diabetes and anxiety may have different aetiologies, however, they are interconnected somehow.

Diabetic people may become worried or anxious over various things. From waking up in the morning and monitoring your glucose levels, to weight changes and diet, diabetes can really stress you out. 

Since diabetes is a chronic disease and managing can become a hassle, one can get anxious about short-term as well as long-term health complications. 

A diabetic person is more prone to infections, kidney diseases, stroke, and many other debilitating conditions, he/she can develop severe anxiety. This can eventually make monitoring and managing his/ her symptoms more challenging. 

To manage stress due to struggling with diabetes, you need to follow healthy lifestyle options such as diet, physical exercise, and other stress-relieving activities.

It should be kept in mind that if you’re suffering from both, diabetes and anxiety medications should be only used prescribed by your doctor. 

This chronic disease, diabetes could also be a risk factor for developing depression, found out in some studies. It’s still not completely understood why this happens. 

Some researchers suggest that alterations in brain chemistry due to diabetes can be associated with depression. A study conducted in 2011 showed that people having type 2 diabetes and are suffering from depression, often have more raised blood glucose levels. 

Can stress cause high blood sugar levels in non diabetics?

As we’ve discussed, anxiety and diabetes might be associated. Stress might also be a risk factor for high sugar in the blood in those who are non-diabetics.

In people who are non-diabetics, stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline may cause a temporary increase in blood sugar. 

This transient increase in blood sugar levels occurs as a response to stressful conditions either physical or emotional stress. Stress hormones have a big role in this phenomenon. 

Can anxiety mimic diabetes?

Since anxiety and diabetes have quite similar symptoms, anxiety can actually mimic diabetes. 

Anxiety can be psychological or due to changes in blood sugar levels either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.

To determine if anxiety is mimicking diabetes, you can look closely at the symptoms. Anxiety and panic attack symptoms persist, whereas blood glucose levels fluctuate. 

Can stress and anxiety cause diabetes?

Stress and anxiety could be the possible factors resulting in high blood sugar levels. As we’ve discussed above, a strong connection lies between them.

Whenever a person is stressed or anxious, his body prepares itself by activating the fight-and-flight mode. This means he requires more energy in the form of sugar (glucose) and the body makes changes according to it.

This causes low insulin levels and high glucagon and adrenaline levels to release more glucose from the liver. 

At the same time, stress hormones cortisol and growth hormone are also secreted in the blood. They both tend to increase blood sugar levels and increases insulin resistance to muscle and fat tissues.

Less glucose consumption and more production by the liver causes hyperglycemia. 

However, the effect of stress on blood sugar levels is still not clearly understood. In some people, anxiety raises blood glucose while in others it can decrease the blood glucose levels.

Difference between panic attack and low blood sugar

When you’re feeling unwell and lightheaded, how you can tell if it’s because of low blood sugar or you’re having a panic attack? It can be quite confusing. 

Both these conditions can manifest with the same symptoms, which can lead to a common misdiagnosis. Some diabetics tend to confuse their symptoms with a panic attack, which might be actually due to hypoglycemia.

When a person feels unwell, lightheaded, sweaty, and has an increased heart rate, he might think it’s a panic attack. However, this is not only the case every time. Low blood sugar is another cause of these symptoms.

How to differentiate between them? Let’s discuss them individually.  

Panic Attack- this is usually an attack of sudden intense fear and anxiety. It can happen due to any stressful situation such as bereavement or sometimes without any apparent cause. 

Low Blood Sugar- this condition, also known as hypoglycemia, occurs when your blood glucose level drops to a very low level. It can have various causing factors, such as skipping a meal, intense physical activity, etc. 

While they both have different causes and factors, symptoms such as trembling, sweating, racing heartbeat, dizziness, etc. are common in both. They both tend to drain the energy out of a person, leaving them helpless. 

An important characteristic that  can differentiate between them is that blood sugar level fluctuates with diet and the symptoms of hypoglycemia can reverse. 

However, this does not apply to a panic attack. The symptoms can be consistent for an unexpected time. 

Can metformin increase anxiety?

People usually ask can metformin increase anxiety? But first, let’s discuss what is metformin? 

Metformin is an anti-diabetic drug belonging to a class biguanides. It is used as the first line of medication for diabetes Mellitus (type-2).

There isn’t much evidence of whether metformin can increase anxiety or not. However, anxiety and panic attacks are some of the long-term side effects of this drug. 

In a few people who were consuming metformin for diabetes, anxiety symptoms were reported as long-term adverse effects. 

On the contrary, it was found out in a study that metformin may lead to reduced anxiety. It might be because metformin might increase the serotonin levels in the brain. Increased serotonin level is associated with happiness and wellbeing. 

Does high insulin cause anxiety?

High insulin could possibly lead to adverse effects such as severe hypoglycemia. Whenever high insulin causes low blood sugar, your brain tries to bring it up. 

To compensate for the drop in blood sugar levels, your brain pumps out adrenaline and other stress chemicals which causes your liver to produce more glucose.

These stress hormones and chemicals, particularly adrenaline causes tachycardia (increased heart rate), palpitations, sweaty and shaky limbs, and a racing mind. 

These are all common symptoms of anxiety and warning signs of low blood sugar levels. 

In recent research, it has been found out that insulin resistance, can also be the cause of anxiety. Insulin resistance is when your body cells (fat, muscle, liver cells) do not respond to insulin.

When your body cells develop insulin resistance, your pancreas starts to make more insulin. This can eventually lead to hormonal imbalance and result in diabetes, anxiety symptoms, and depression-like behavior.


Diabetes and anxiety are two serious and common conditions, having a strong linkage between them. This article aims to enlighten this bizarre association and how can high blood sugar cause anxiety. 

Stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released when blood sugar levels are high. They seem to be the key ingredients of recipe anxiety.

It’s important to understand why this happens and how to manage anxiety symptoms as it can further deteriorate your health. 

A healthy lifestyle, a complete medical check-up, and consultation with a health professional can help you determine the best strategies for managing your condition. 

Leave a Reply