Stress hormones released due to low blood sugar can lead to mental health conditions like anxiety.

You’ve probably heard that your mental health can directly impact your physical health. For example, chronic stress manifests as body aches or raises blood pressure.

But can your body impact your mental health? Experts say it can.

Evidence shows a link between your blood sugar levels and anxiety. When your body cannot maintain a stable glycemic index or blood sugar, the effects may cause stress and worry, among other symptoms.

Plus, the link is worth exploring with mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, occurring in many diagnosed with diabetes. Knowing what causes low blood sugar may also help lower your anxiety and stress.

Those diagnosed with diabetes are 20% more likely to have anxiety. So not only does managing a long-term condition like it cause significant stress and anxiety but how it affects your blood sugar also impacts your mood.

How does this work? There are a couple of things that happen.

First, if you experience worry and stress, your body releases stress hormones that can raise or lower your blood sugar.

Then, a 2016 study suggests that eating carbohydrates, also known as carbs, can impact our emotions and how it does this has to do with your glycemic index (GI).

When you eat high GI foods, like white rice and sugar, the body receives a fast burst of glucose and energy into the blood. In response, you then release large amounts of insulin to compensate. Sometimes, insulin can lower it too much, leading to low blood sugar.

Finally, your body may release epinephrine in response to low blood sugar, which can cause mental health symptoms like anxiety.

As you review the symptoms of low blood sugar and anxiety, you can see the symptoms they share while also noting those that set them apart.

Low blood sugar

The following are common symptoms of low blood sugar:

  • confusion
  • heart palpitations
  • tremors
  • fatigue
  • excessive sweating
  • anxiety
  • hunger
  • seizure


Every person may experience different symptoms of anxiety. But, the most frequent signs include:

  • confusion
  • heart palpitations
  • tremors
  • weakness
  • hot flashes
  • upset stomach
  • dry mouth

Is it stress or low blood sugar?

Symptoms of anxiety can mirror those of low blood sugar. It can be hard to recognize which is which. If you start feeling anxious, it’s best to check your blood sugar and treat it if low. As a result, you should see your anxiety improve. If not, it’s best to speak to your doctor about how you feel.

Was this helpful?

Low blood sugar isn’t too common if you’re not diagnosed with diabetes. But, the following may lead to it:

  • Medications: Drugs like metformin are used to manage diabetes but also treat conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and weight gain, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for symptoms of low blood sugar while taking it.
  • Alcohol: Drinking alcohol makes the body create glucose but doesn’t tell the body to store it for later use, lowering blood sugar days after drinking.
  • Illness: When you’re ill, the body uses more glucose than it takes in, leading to the levels dropping too low.
  • Hormones: An imbalance of hormones can cause your adrenal gland to produce more insulin leading to less sugar in the blood.
  • Tumors: A tumor that forms in the pancreas, also known as an islet cell tumor, can affect the amount of sugar in the blood.

Diet and exercise

You take a significant step toward managing anxiety and low blood sugar when you get moving. Exercise isn’t always about losing weight. It’s also about maintaining weight, improving mood, and managing your health.

A 2020 study review shows that exercise can improve anxiety symptoms by regulating your body chemicals and reducing inflammation, allowing your brain to process emotions better.

You can start slow if you’re new to regular exercise and spending hours at the gym isn’t necessary. Your goal is 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, which is a little over 20 minutes daily. The way to meet this goal may include:

  • walking briskly
  • playing tennis
  • dancing
  • gardening

When planning meals, you may consider the evidence showing a diet that emphasizes a good balance of the following can lead to less anxiety:

  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • limited sugar
  • refined grains

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that if you have diabetes, you should aim to get half of your daily calories from carbs. So, if you eat 1,800 calories daily, around 900 calories should come from carb sources.

If you are consistently experiencing low blood sugar, consider counting your carbs every day to ensure you’re getting what you need. If you’re unsure, you and your doctor can discuss how many carbs you should take at each meal.


If you are consistently experiencing low blood sugar, consider counting your carbs every day to ensure you’re getting what you need.

Similar monitoring can help keep track of the other nutrients you need, such as protein and fat. In addition, a meal tracker or food diary is helpful to see what’s in what you eat and how your body uses it by breaking down your nutrients.

Maintaining routine check-ups with your doctor is also essential. They will want to monitor your anxiety and low blood sugar symptoms to rule out any other underlying conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and diabetes.


At some point, everyone experiences anxiety. But, when your symptoms persist and start impacting your daily life, you may need therapy to help manage them.

Working with a mental health therapist can help you identify and modify your mind’s thoughts while identifying the triggers that spark your symptoms.

If a health condition is causing your low blood sugar, speaking to a therapist can help you learn to adapt to your life and better manage your symptoms.

There is a complicated link between anxiety and low blood sugar since their symptoms mimic each other.

Inside, anxiety appears to impact how the body regulates blood sugar directly, and low blood sugar seems to trigger anxiety symptoms.

But, also, when you experience a condition like diabetes where you must consistently monitor your blood sugar, it can lead to stress and worry.

Consider speaking with your doctor about your symptoms. They could signify a more significant concern that won’t go away on its own.