So what do we know about Diabetes as a disease? Diabetes is the de-sensitisation of red blood cells to insulin, due to the high concentrations of glucose present in the blood serum. An increased amount of Insulin which is secreted form the pancreas is then needed for the breakdown of the blood glucose. The high saturation of Insulin then creates a downgrade of insulin receptors on the red blood cells which stops the excessive influx of insulin within the cells, creating insulin resistance, energy resistance, depression, anxiety, confusion and angry people suffering from constant highs and lows.
Some would argue that diabetes is the reason for the emotional upsets experienced from the dis-ease, although could it be that the diabetes is just the physical representation of the stress and emotional suppression on the inside. It is documented that when a person whom suffers insulin resistance and type II diabetes is stressed their blood glucose raises and often continues in an upward gradient until the emotional state returns to a base level. This state also increases Cortisol levels and affects adrenal exertion, kick starting the adrenal sympathetic response of fight or flight.
So what creates this emotional upset? To name a just a few; financial commitments, worries, relationship problems, children, work, traffic, pollution, lack of sleep, state of the economy, world affairs, etc. Often these situations are also associated with emotions of doom and gloom, devastation, lack of control, worthlessness, low self esteem, fear, anger, sadness, shame, guilt etc.
Dr. Linda Mundof (ND) and Dr Gabor Mate (Canadian physician) have studied the links between personality types and the onset of disease. A C personality type is someone who is at heightened risk for a slew of afflictions, immune suppression, asthma, cancer and diabetes. Type C is a contrast to that of the Type A person (who angers easily and has difficulty keeping feelings under wraps) and the Type B person (who has a healthier balance of emotional expressiveness). The Type C person is a suppressor, a stoic, a denier of feelings. He or she has a calm, outwardly rational, and unemotional demeanour, but also a tendency to conform to the wishes of others, a lack of assertiveness, and an inclination toward feelings of helplessness or hopelessness and low self esteem.
Type C's tend to obsess over the emotions held within as they have difficulty expressing them outwards, leaving them chronically stressed, with increased blood pressure, fat gain, muscle loss, diabetes, heart problems, lowered immunity, digestive problems, increased appetite, fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, anxiety and depression. It also increases Cortisol which depresses DHEA levels, causing muscle wasting and premature aging.
Dr Mate also began to notice a pattern when studying Type C personalities: individuals who were unable to express anger or other emotions, who didn't seem to recognize the primacy of their own needs appeared to be the ones most susceptible to a slew of other auto immune dis-eases where the immune system of the body actually starts attacking itself internally. These diseases included asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
So lets look at who tends to suffer type II diabetes, when we firstly think of the typical type two diabetic they tend to be overweight, middle aged, female between the ages of 25-44 and males between the age of 45-74 (National Diabetes register 1999-2005, http://www.aihw.gov.au). As a societal judgement one could say overweight people represent laziness, with a lack of motivation and self commitment and control, general emotional fragility although not forthright with their emotional status and someone that has possibly suffered a significant emotional event or trauma with numerous internal conflicts.
So what if we were to look at Diabetes as not a clinical disease but an emotional/mental dis-ease of the sufferer. This internal dis-ease moves the sufferer to a position of chronic stress where coping mechanisms are represented as repetitive behaviours either physically or emotionally, such as over eating to feel better mentally. This emotional eating leads itself to food that is generally high in sugar, creating an artificial stimulation of serotonin and dopamine. This stimulation temporarily improves mental status yet suppresses the represented state of turmoil within. This undealt with suppressed emotional status then imbalances the internal homeostasis of the body and here lies the mind, body connection.
So it could be hypothesised that your typical type II diabetic is someone that has a type C personality type, is emotionally reactive, chronically stressed, suffers from obsessive behavioural disorders and suppresses their emotions leading to fatigue, depression, anxiety, elevated blood pressure, blood glucose and Cortisol, with a higher prevalence of auto-immune disease all represented as the dis-ease commonly known as diabetes.
When we think about controlling our diabetes, we think of doing this with diet and exercise quite often combined with medication. Seldom do we even consider the fourth leg, emotional health.
Emotions and diabetes are a two-way street, a so called coexistent relationship. When our emotional status is positive, we can more easily control our physical triggers for the diabetes such as a reduction in stress and emotional eating and when we control our diabetes, we feel better with increased emotional stability, self-esteem and confidence.
The study published by the Annals of behavioural management (Katherine T Fortenberry M.S 2006), looked at fluctuations of positive and negative emotions toward daily tasking competency having a direct effect on blood glucose. This study involved sixty two adolescents with type one diabetes who were required to complete daily diaries for two weeks detailing their mood, emotions and average blood glucose levels, overall confidence in their ability to manage their diabetes, and their ability to manage daily diabetes tasks, such as eating healthy foods and taking insulin.
Teens which reported more positive feelings, such as happiness or excitement, self control and successful achievement tended to have lower, in fact near normal blood glucose levels. Those that reported having negative feelings such as anger, sadness, guilt and failure revealed a tendency toward higher blood glucose levels, concluding that emotions can affect blood glucose both positively and negatively.
Looking at the results from this study, would it not be a logical thought to support those with diabetes emotionally and deal with the underlying internal conflicts that kick started the stress response rather than masking the symptoms with pharmaceutical prescriptions?