Diabetes affects more than just your physical health. New studies highlight the impact of diabetes on emotional state as well as how those emotions can affect diabetes management.

Frequent blood-sugar level changes can affect emotional states for diabetics impacting emotions as well as quality of life. These diabetes-related mood fluctuations can also affect how individuals manage the disease.

Two recent studies are shedding light on this difficult problem for diabetics. A small study, led by Sue Penckofer from Loyola University in Chicago, evaluated the role of frequent blood-sugar level changes, called glycemic variability, on mood and quality of life for type 2 diabetes.

Researchers attached a glucose monitoring system on 23 women with type 2 diabetes for three days. The women also completed questionnaires as part of the study. Researchers measured blood-sugar control, blood-sugar change during a 24 hour period and mood, be it anxiety, depression or anger. Quality of life was also assessed by researchers via questionnaires.

Out of the 23 diabetic women, 12 had depression while 11 did not. Blood-sugar control was similar for both groups. For the depressed women, anxiety, anger and depression were higher than in the women who did not have depression. Quality of life was also lower in the depressed diabetic women.

More importantly, changes in blood-sugar levels were associated with quality of life for both groups of women after factoring in age and weight. Emotional states were also affected by blood-sugar levels, note researchers. The small sample size is an obvious limitation to the study and the researchers hope to expand the study to a larger population.

The second study focused on blood-sugar levels in non-diabetics. Led by Dr. Nyika D. Kruyt from the Department of Neurology at the Academy Medical Center at the University of Amsterdam, 20 non-diabetics who were about to go bungee jumping. Researchers wanted to see what role stress played in affecting blood-sugar levels. As stress increased prior to and after the jump blood-sugar levels increased as well. The stress levels also affected blood-sugar metabolism, causing increased insulin resistance and higher blood-sugar levels. While not focused on diabetics, this study helps show how stress and other mood factors may affect overall blood-sugar levels, which is very important for diabetics.

Failure to control diabetes may cause a person to become discouraged leading to poor mood and increased anxiety and these mood changes will also impact blood-sugar levels, notes Tim Wysocki from the Nemours Children’s Clinic. The two studies could lead to better diabetes management in the future by focusing on emotions as well as blood-sugar levels.