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June 15, 2000

Hypoglycemia

Question from Georgetown, Kentucky, USA:

I've been dating my boyfriend for a year, and have an interest in psychology. What happens, chemically, in a person's brain when they have an insulin reaction to cause such a drastic change in behavior? I have seen in my boyfriend behavior that is oddly similar to that of my brother, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia (emotionless face and voice, blank eyes, delusional or paranoid thinking, "spacy" behavior). I have asked many people and doctors, but no one seems to know.

Answer:

I’m not sure we do exactly know. We just see it like you do. Obviously, the brain isn’t getting glucose and the brain needs glucose in order for us to act “normal.” We do know you can’t learn or think properly with a low glucose. We also know that many and prolonged low blood glucose readings can permanently change the brain and should be avoided as much as possible.

LD