Diabetics are to be taught meditation-like techniques in an experiment to see whether it could help lower blood sugar levels.
Aberdeen University researchers are seeking adult volunteers with Type 1 diabetes to take part in a two-year study.
Around one in three sufferers experience significant anxiety or depression, which can make the condition harder to manage.
Worry not only pumps more glucose into the bloodstream, but is also the catalyst for symptoms such as dizziness and blurred vision, which fool people into thinking their levels are too low and that they need medication.
Psychologists are hoping that practicing “mindfulness” could break that vicious circle.
Volunteers will be encouraged to drown out negative thoughts by focusing their attention instead on the noises around them and physical sensations such as brushing their teeth or drinking coffee.
Dr Andy Keen, a consultant specialising in diabetes at the university and NHS Grampian, said it was unsurprising the constant battle to manage diabetes gradually took a toll on patients’ mental health.
He added: “If you change the way people think, then you change the way they feel.
“We definitely know that anxiety and depression can be significant barriers to effectively managing diabetes.
“By alleviating these [factors], we can give people the opportunity to invest more time and energy into looking after themselves if they want to do that.
“As well as trying their best to manage their condition, like everyone else, people with Type 1 diabetes have to deal with the usual ups and downs of life.
“It’s not surprising that some people with diabetes can struggle to keep up the effort and interest needed to manage such a complex condition, nor that they can become frustrated, anxious or depressed.
“Mindfulness is a skill – a way of helping people to be better able to focus on the ‘here and now’ of their lives, and disengage with unhelpful ways of thinking.”
Volunteers will be expected to attend a mindfulness group one evening a week for eight weeks and practice mindfulness at home.
The two-year study, which also involves researchers at Glasgow and Stirling universities and clinical staff from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, could lead to a bigger programme if it proves successful.
Anyone interested in taking part in the study should contact the research team by email at email@example.com or by calling 07946 247746.