*****FROM ABC NEWS MEDICAL UNIT*****
Hi coalminer77. It should be noted that it was quite difficult to secure an answer to your question, but late last week we contacted the University of Maryland School of Medicine and received a wonderfully quick response. My apologies for the delay. Here is your answer from Kristi D. Silver, M.D., associate medical director of the University of Maryland Joslin Diabetes Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine:
I am very sorry to hear of your family's loss. Let me try to answer your question about diabetes and stress. Many patients believe that their diabetes has been caused by stress. While stress can stimulate release of hormones that tend to raise blood sugar levels, the association of stress with diabetes is more likely to be due to an unhealthy life style. Often with stress, people eat an unhealthy diet with higher caloric intake and are less active. Both of these factors increase the likelihood of gaining weight, which in turn is a major risk factor in the development of Type 2 diabetes. Once a person has diabetes, stress may cause a small rise in blood sugar levels. More often, however, stress leads to a deterioration in blood sugar control as a result of a poor diet and decreased exercise/activity.
Hi coalminer77. Here is another answer to your question from Thomas W. Donner, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, Director, Joslin Diabetes Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine:
Stress can affect blood sugar levels in a number of ways. The "stress" hormones that the body releases when stressed cause blood sugar levels to increase. Typically major physical stress raises the blood sugar the most, but psychological stress can as well.
When people are psychologically stressed, their behavior may change in ways that can increase blood sugar levels as well; psychologically stressed persons often increase food intake and decrease physical activity both of which can raise blood sugar levels.
The family history is often positive in persons with type 2 diabetes, but not always. Relatives that may have passed on one or more diabetes genes may not have been known to have diabetes, or died before diabetes was diagnosed.