Stress Resilience and Diabetes in Millennials

Results of a recent study have shed light on the relationship between diabetes and stress resilience. Stress resilience is the ability of any individual to properly adapt, cope or manage with stress in adverse conditions. Low stress resilience means difficulty to deal with stress or to handle and come out from adversity. Study results also suggest that an inability to handle stress during teenage years can play a role in causing diabetes in adulthood. Males who have low resilience towards stress during their younger years may be more prone to diabetes in later years of their life.

The study group constituted more than 1 million 18-year-old Swedish males who were inducted into military service between 1969 and 1997, when service was compulsory in Sweden. It included men who weren’t diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 18, and all underwent standard assessments for physiological stress resistance

The psychologist assessed each subject about his experiences in school, at home, work or during leisure activities, personal or professional conflicts, successes, responsibilities shouldered and initiatives taken, in an interview lasting 20 to 30 minutes. The research team analyzed and matched the participants to their medical records later in life to assess how many patients were diagnosed with diabetes between 1987 and 2012. The data indicated that 34,000 men out of 1 million were subsequently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

The results also indicated that men with low stress resilience (score between one and three on a scale of nine) were 51 percent more prone to developing diabetes than those who displayed a higher scale of resilience. People who have many stressful experiences or who are not good in handling stress may develop unhealthy behavior and routines. It includes poor sleep cycle, poor eating habits, sedentary life style, and heavy consumption of alcohol or smoking which may lead to development of diabetes.

Dr. Casey Crump of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, who is the senior author of the study, explained that low stress resilience can also lead to other physiological and hormonal changes such as increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can further contribute to insulin resistance leading to diabetes.

Dr. Cecilia Bergh of Orebro University in Sweden, who was not part of the new study said, “If you have low stress resilience, even some everyday experiences can be stressful. Very high levels of stress, such as being in a war zone, are damagingly stressful for almost everybody, even among those with high stress resilience.”

Dr. Crump also says, “It is of utmost importance for general public to know, especially those who have a familial history of diabetes or those who are overweight, that management of stress is an important aspect for maintaining long-term health and preventing diabetes.

Some other studies indicate that stressful life environment in mid adulthood poses a high risk of developing diabetes, although those studies didn’t involve stress response parameter in early life and its relation to higher risk of diabetes in later life.


Doyle, K., 2016. Lack of resilience as a teen tied to higher diabetes risk as an adult | Reuters. Available at: [Accessed February 15, 2016].

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