How Does Insulin Affect Anxiety?

Mar 04, 2024
serene forest landscape

Anxiety and stress often get tied up in the same bag. I often hear client complaints of fatigue, insomnia, racing thoughts, feeling overwhelmed and then in the same breath, they tell me they were told it was just anxiety. I know that this is a controversial opinion, but for the majority - anxiety is another symptom, not the disease. When you are told you have anxiety, the next question should be "why?". As a functional medicine consultant, that's what I address- the "why?". What is at the root of this? What do we need to bring into balance so that you aren't experiencing the symptom of anxiety? 

One root cause is insulin imbalance. This topic is near and dear to my heart. Once I learned how insulin fluctuations might be affecting my own stress and anxiety, addressing it made all the difference in how I felt. Learning how to nourish and work with my body helped me to reduce my anxiety symptoms and allowed me to feel like me again. Let me know if this post resonates with you! 

In this blog post, we'll explore how insulin affects anxiety, shedding light on the connection and offering insights into managing both aspects of health.

Insulin's Role in the Body

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels. Its primary function is to help cells absorb glucose from the bloodstream to use as energy or store for later use. However, when the body becomes resistant to insulin, as is common in conditions like type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome, glucose levels can rise, leading to various health complications. Read more about insulin resistance here in this post.

The Insulin-Anxiety Connection

Recent research suggests that insulin resistance and high insulin levels may be linked to an increased risk of anxiety disorders, especially in women over 35. Several mechanisms could explain this connection:

  • Inflammation: Insulin resistance is often accompanied by chronic low-grade inflammation, which can affect brain function and mood regulation, potentially contributing to anxiety.
  • Neurotransmitter Imbalance: Insulin resistance may disrupt the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, which play key roles in mood regulation.
  • Hypoglycemia: Fluctuations in blood sugar levels due to insulin resistance can trigger hypoglycemic episodes, leading to symptoms like anxiety, irritability, and confusion.
  • Hormonal Changes: Insulin resistance can exacerbate hormonal imbalances common in women as they age, further influencing mood and anxiety levels.

Managing Insulin and Anxiety

Fortunately, there are several strategies you can adopt to manage both insulin levels and anxiety:

  1. Balanced Diet: Focus on a diet rich in whole foods, including plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates to help balance blood sugars, promote microbiome health, and contribute to neurotransmitter and hormone production. Limit refined sugars and processed foods, which can exacerbate insulin resistance. 
  2. Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, such as walking, jogging, yoga, or strength training. Exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, and promote overall well-being. This post can help you find he right type of exercise for you!
  3. Stress Management: Practice stress-reducing techniques like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or journaling to lower cortisol levels and alleviate anxiety. Need some inspiration? Check out this video for my favorite breath work technique!
  4. Sleep Hygiene: Prioritize quality sleep by establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and optimizing your sleep environment. Poor sleep can worsen insulin resistance and increase susceptibility to anxiety.


As you age, maintaining optimal health becomes increasingly important. This encompasses both physical and mental well-being. By understanding the intricate relationship between insulin and anxiety, you can take proactive steps to manage your health effectively. Through lifestyle modifications, stress management, and seeking appropriate medical support, you can improve insulin sensitivity, alleviate anxiety symptoms, and start thriving again.

As always, don't hesitate to share this with someone who could use it! 

If you want to make sure you aren't missing out on the newest post, make sure to sign up for our newsletter below ❤️

Wishing you health and wellness!



  1. Moulton CD, Pickup JC, Ismail K. The link between depression and diabetes: the search for shared mechanisms. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2015;3(6):461-471. doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(15)00007-9
  2. Halaris A. Inflammation-associated co-morbidity between depression and cardiovascular disease. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2017;31:45-70. doi:10.1007/7854_2016_9
  3. Schuch FB, Vancampfort D, Richards J, Rosenbaum S, Ward PB, Stubbs B. Exercise as a treatment for depression: A meta-analysis adjusting for publication bias. J Psychiatr Res. 2016;77:42-51. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2016.02.023
  4. Rao G, Patel M, Miller E, et al. The Association of Depression and Anxiety With Obesity and Unhealthy Behaviors Among Community-Dwelling US Adults. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2020;65:45-51. doi:10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2020.03.008

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.