When Youre Afraid to Test: The Root of Diabetes Test Anxiety
Getting to the Root of Glucose Testing Anxiety
Medically reviewed by Suzanne Falck, MD on September 20, 2017 Written by Stephanie Watson
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, testing your blood sugar is critical to managing the disease. Measuring your glucose levels multiple times a day is the only way to know if your sugars are too low or too high.
To some people with diabetes, testing is a minor inconvenience. To others, its very stressful. Testing anxiety can get so extreme that some people avoid doing it altogether. When you skip glucose tests, you put yourself at risk for uncontrolled blood sugar and all the complications that come with it.
Testing anxiety is more than a fear of needles, although worry over the fingerstick is a big barrier for some. Above and beyond the pain, some people get woozy at the thought of sticking a needle into their finger. About 10 percent of adults have needle phobia, while others have a phobia of seeing blood. They have a real physical response to needles that can range from a rapid heartbeat to fainting.
Licensed clinical psychologist and certified diabetes educator William Polonsky, PhD, has come up with several other reasons why people with diabetes avoid checking their blood sugar. For one, regular testing reminds people they have diabetes, which can be stressful.
Polonsky writes , some people feel so upset about living with diabetes that they work hard to avoid ever thinking about it. If you feel this way, the act of monitoring can become an in-your-face reminder that yes, you still have diabetes, so you dont do it.