How Blood Sugar Affects Mood

A mood is an internal state or condition of feeling. It colors everything else we experience, much like colored sunglasses add a tint to everything we see. Mood is influenced by physiological changes, emotional reactions, our thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs. Together these aspects of experience create our internal weather (mood state) that can rapidly fluctuate or settle in for days.

Mood or Emotion

Emotions are more specific and focused than moods. Emotion is typically defined as an intense feeling response to something outside our self – a person, event, place or object.

When our best friend moves out of state, we may feel grief. Hearing certain types of music can trigger sadness. Seeing our spouse enjoying the company of another might bring up jealousy. Having to check our blood sugar level for the zillionth time might make us angry.

When we feel an emotion, express or otherwise respond to it, then let it go, the emotion soon dissipates. If we ignore or dwell on it, the emotion can have a powerful, lasting influence over our internal state of affairs (our mood).

Blood Sugar and Mood

Physiological changes, such as our blood glucose level, also affect our mood. The brain’s neural network requires a lot of fuel, or glucose, to fire properly. So, as blood sugar rises or falls, our ability to process incoming information is affected.

Someone whose blood sugar is dropping may start having trouble concentrating or making simple decisions such as, “Do I want coffee or tea?” This state of mind can lead to irritation, frustration, and even anger. The person’s mood darkens, and eventually, he or she may explode during a simple interaction or collapse in tears.

When blood sugar rises quickly after enjoying a meal or is just running high, people tend to feel lethargic and/or edgy, to think more slowly, and to make more mistakes. These symptoms, combined with responses to external events and the individual’s thoughts and overall attitude, will, like a high or low-pressure system, influence their mood.

It is much like having the flu with fever, muscle aches, headaches and maybe nausea. Not feeling well is unpleasant and annoying. We cannot be up and about, but lying down is frustrating and boring. Time can seem to slow down, and we suspect our misery may last forever. We want to be cared for but do not wish to be bothered. Our mood becomes grayer and bleaker, and we may feel sad or irritable. Then, as the fever drops and the aches diminish, our mood begins to brighten. Our emotions, thoughts and mood change as the body begins to function better.

Managing Mood

Obviously, for those with diabetes, maintaining good glucose levels is a prime way to avoid glucose-influenced mood swings. However, the mood of people who do not have diabetes is affected by the highs and lows of their blood sugar as well.

Mood is enhanced when we acknowledge our emotions and express them. Emotion can be expressed through talking, writing, social and artistic endeavors, and physical movement. If your feelings seem stuck inside or out of control, consider seeing a mental health professional.

Thoughts and attitudes that are generally negative or self-defeating are a constant drag on our mood. Since ingrained habits of thinking and long-held beliefs are resistant to change, group or individual counseling may be necessary to expose mood-dampening thought patterns and to create more positive ones. Or consider practicing mindfulness.

Mindfulness meditation is extremely helpful with mood management. Mindfulness is focusing our attention on whatever is occurring in the present moment – observing events, thoughts, feelings and body sensations without judging them as good, bad or in between. When we observe without judgment, resistance to what is happening diminishes. We become more objective and less emotionally involved.

Moods Usually Shift

If your mood remains bleak for a couple of weeks and you are struggling to take care of your usual responsibilities, make an appointment to see your doctor.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine
Photo: Pixabay

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