Can Gastric Disorders Contribute To Anxiety And Depression
Dr. Randi Fredricks, Ph.D. is a therapist, researcher and author with a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Doctorate in Naturopathy. Dr. Fredricks works…Read More
It turns out that stomach problems can cause a lot more than just physical discomfort. Research has suggested that gastrointestinal troubles may be linked with anxiety and depression as well.
It is probably no surprise that stomach issues can cause stress, but they can also lead to significant mental health problems. The stomach complaints most strongly associated with anxiety and depression appear to be conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome . However, a 2011 Stanford University study discovered that even short-term digestive problems can lead to mental health issues later.
Of course, not all stomach irritation is related with lifelong psychological problems. The Stanford study noted that the exact impact most likely depends on when gastrointestinal trouble occurs during someones development. It is also likely influenced by genetics and other environmental factors.
Research has found that around 20 percent of Americans suffer from persistent or recurring pain in the upper stomach region, related to conditions such as IBS. A number of studies have shown that these individuals are significantly more likely to experience anxiety or depression.
What Is The 333 Rule For Anxiety
- *List three noises that you are currently hearing.
- Move three different parts of your body: your feet, then your fingers, and finally your shoulders.
- And describe three things that stand out to you.
- The activity that the psychologist recommended for bringing one back to the here and now was as follows: Whenever you feel like your brain is going a thousand miles per hour, do this exercise to help bring you back to the present moment.
Mindfulness Meditation And Breathing Techniques
Mindfulness, meditation, breathing techniques, and progressive muscle relaxation have all been linked to evoking the relaxation response by reducing anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure, and improving energy, concentration, and self-awareness.
This relaxation response is the opposite of your fight-or-flight impulse, which is your stress response. When you experience a relaxation response, your body no longer feels threatened by perceived danger, so your brain tells your gut it can safely revert to normal functioning.
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Types Of Anxiety Bowel Problems
Your entire digestive tract is incredibly complex. There are plenty of medical issues – some common, some more serious – that can alter the health and behavior of the bowels, and lead to discomforts, wet stools, constipation, pain, and many other symptoms. From poor diet to illness, the bowels are often the place affected by a host of medical conditions.
There are also many bowel issues that can relate back to stress and anxiety as well. But what is interesting about bowel issues from anxiety is that they are related in a number of ways, some of which may not even yet be clear.
Below is a quick breakdown of some of the bowel problems that those with anxiety may struggle with. While it is not a comprehensive list, the bowel issues below are some of the most common reported issues and the ones that you or someone you care about may experience if they struggle from anxiety and stress related issues.
Are There Foods That Reduce Stomach Pain
Anxiety-related stomach pain is not usually the result of your diet , so there arent necessarily any dietary changes that can help reduce stomach pain.
That said, those with panic attacks are more prone to experiencing more severe stomach discomfort, even when no anxiety is present. In other words, when you have panic attacks, its possible to have stomach pain even without a panic attack.
Also, those with anxiety attacks and severe anxiety are prone to whats known as over-sensitization. That means that they are more likely to notice and feel smaller, normal changes in the body, and these can trigger an anxiety attack. So if your diet does contain foods that cause you gas, stomach discomfort, or mild indigestion, it may be best to avoid them because the slight amount of discomfort could feel worse than it should and may trigger a panic attack.
Thats why healthy eating is important in those that get stomach pain with anxiety. Make sure youre getting:
- Whole-Grain Carbohydrates
Also, if you suffer from stress-induced hyperacidity, then it is recommended that you consume dairy products and non-spicy foods. In moderate amounts, over-the-counter antacids may be needed as well.
In addition, if possible, try to avoid eating until youre too full. Those with severe anxiety sometimes interpret the full feeling as pain, and this could trigger a panic attack and further pain.
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What Does A Stress
Just as everyone experiences stress differently, they may experience the stomach discomfort it causes differently.
People with stress- or anxiety-related stomach pain most often complain of a knotted feeling, cramping, churning, bloating, indigestion, nausea, or diarrhea.
Broadly speaking, stress increases the movement and fluid secretion of your gut, which can leave you feeling like your stomach is either unusually blocked or extra active.
While acute or chronic stress has the potential to exacerbate the symptoms of any digestive condition, there are a number of specific stomach complaints that have been linked to stress, each with its own symptoms.
The Link Between The Gut And The Mind
Experts have discovered that the stomach and the mind are more closely linked than we first thought. Worry, stress, anxiety and nerves can all have a physical effect on the body, including the digestive system.
For example, those who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome have found that, although the primary causes of the symptoms are often food-related, stress has a huge effect on their day-to-day management of IBS symptoms.
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Can Stress From Anxiety Mess Up Your Digestive System
Experiencing chronic worry can wreak havoc on your digestive system, as well as your , so finding healthy ways of reducing stress is crucial for achieving total wellness. Whether your tummy troubles stem from a brief period of stress and anxiety or a more serious medical condition, working yourself up even more, wondering can stress cause stomach issues?, isnt going to make the issue resolve itself any more quickly.
If youve tried decreasing your everyday stress levels on your own and are still having digestive problems, its time to to talk to a doctor about your digestive health today.
Anxiety & Depression Worsen Quality Of Life Of Gerd Patients
GERD patients with depression and/or anxiety tend to experience greater symptoms and lower quality of life despite having similar reflux parameters as other GERD patients who do not have mental health issues.
Anxiety in these patients is associated with increased heartburn and chest pain
Patients with Non-erosive reflux disorder tend to experience mental health symptoms more than other subtypes of GERD.
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How To Control Your Anxiety Upset Stomach
Stomach upset can really put a damper on your ability to live a happy life. Ideally, you’ll need to treat your anxiety to experience a calmer stomach.
Even though anxiety is causing your stomach to feel sick, many of the symptoms can be reduced with various medications. You should always consult with a doctor before taking medication and do not want to rely on medication to cure your upset stomach. However, many people have had success with basic medications that calm the stomach. Common examples include:
Eating healthier can also help. Remember that your anxiety is affecting your gut, but it’s not causing the symptoms all on its own. What’s in your stomach has an effect on the severity of the symptoms as well. Eating healthier – especially on days you expect to experience anxiety – can be very helpful. Drinking water may also be useful since water is gentle on the stomach.
You may also try distracting yourself. While your upset stomach may be severe, anxiety causes a tendency to focus on the experience, which causes further anxiety and exacerbates the severity of the stomach pain. A positive distraction, like a funny TV show, can actually make a big difference in the way you experience your upset stomach.
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Why Does The Stomach Feel Stress
Stress impacts the gut because each person has a hard wired connection between the brain in the head and the nervous system housed within the GI tract called the enteric nervous system, Chey says. The enteric nervous system lives within the wall of the GI tract and communicates through the spinal cord with the brain. While the enteric nervous system typically runs the GI tract independently, the brain can influence how it behaves. In times of stress, it may send a distress signal that makes the GI system run differently. In addition, stress makes the nerves in the gut overly sensitive so things that normally arent even perceived at a conscious level are perceived as unpleasant gut symptoms.
Everybody knows somebody that during high school before a big exam or an athletic event would have to run to the bathroom, Chey says. It happens because of the impact of stress or anxiety in the GI tract.
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Physical Sensations From Stress Can Suppress Appetite
When Mindi Sue Black recently lost her father, she dropped a significant amount of weight. She forced herself to nibble here and there, but had no desire to eat.
I knew I should eat, but I just couldnt, she tells Healthline. The thought of chewing anything put me in a tailspin. It was a chore to drink water.
Like Black, some people lose their appetite due to the physical sensations associated with anxiety that make the thought of eating unappetizing.
Often times, stress manifests itself through physical sensations in the body, such as nausea, tense muscles, or a knot in the stomach, says Christina Purkiss, a primary therapist at The Renfrew Center of Orlando, an eating disorder treatment facility.
These sensations could lead to difficulty being in tune with hunger and fullness cues. If someone is feeling intensely nauseous due to stress, it will be challenging to accurately read when the body is experiencing hunger, Purkiss explains.
Raul Perez-Vazquez, MD, says that some people also lose their appetite due to the increase in cortisol that can happen during times of high anxiety.
In the acute or immediate setting, stress causes increased levels of cortisol, which in turn increases acid production in the stomach, he says. This process is meant to help the body quickly digest food in preparation for fight-or-flight, which is mediated by adrenaline. This process also, for the same reasons, decreases appetite.
How To Reduce Stress
Aside from managing the physical symptoms of stress, the only way to truly make a difference is to address the root of the problem the mind. Whilst its true that stress is not a physical condition, there are ways of managing it and improving your physical health.
Experts have suggested that good ways to reduce stress are meditating, breathing exercises and calming exercise such as yoga. Try to take some relaxing walks outdoors as exercise, combined with fresh air and sunlight, are fantastic natural mood-boosters.
You should also consider your work life are you staying late, or continually worrying about deadlines? Some people may find that their stomach pain or similar symptoms worsen while at work. If this sounds like you, take steps to address this work stress. Speak to someone at work and tell them how you are feeling. They should be able to point you in the right direction.
Some individuals also find that therapy or counselling can really help their stress, which subsequently will hopefully lead to fewer stomach problems.
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Gut Health And Anxiety
Given how closely the gut and brain interact, it becomes easier to understand why you might feel nauseated before giving a presentation, or feel intestinal pain during times of stress. That doesn’t mean, however, that functional gastrointestinal conditions are imagined or “all in your head.” Psychology combines with physical factors to cause pain and other bowel symptoms. Psychosocial factors influence the actual physiology of the gut, as well as symptoms. In other words, stress can affect movement and contractions of the GI tract.
In addition, many people with functional GI disorders perceive pain more acutely than other people do because their brains are more responsive to pain signals from the GI tract. Stress can make the existing pain seem even worse.
Based on these observations, you might expect that at least some patients with functional GI conditions might improve with therapy to reduce stress or treat anxiety or depression. Multiple studies have found that psychologically based approaches lead to greater improvement in digestive symptoms compared with only conventional medical treatment.
Should I Be Getting Screened Regularly For Colon Cancer Or Other Gi Tract Cancers
As of 2021, the United States Preventative Services Task Force and major GI medical societies recommend that adults at average risk for colorectal cancer are regularly screened beginning at age 45.
People who have a family history of colorectal cancer or other GI tract cancers, including stomach or pancreas cancer, or a history of GI conditions like inflammatory bowel disease may need routine cancer screening earlier than age 45.
Talk your primary care physician about your risk and ask if you should get tested.
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Symptoms Of Gerd And Anxiety
GERD and anxiety can cause a number of different symptoms, though there are a few that both conditions seem to have in common.
GI issues, such as heartburn, nausea, and stomach pain are common symptoms of both conditions. Another symptom common in both is globus sensation, which is the painless feeling of a lump in your throat or a tightening or choking sensation.
People who experience globus sensation also often have hoarseness, a chronic cough, or a persistent need to clear their throat, which are also common symptoms caused by GERD and acid reflux.
Disrupted sleep is also a common symptom of both conditions. Acid reflux may be worse when lying down, which can cause you to wake up often. Anxiety affects your sleep pattern and can make it hard for you to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Other symptoms of GERD include:
- chest pain
- regurgitation of sour liquid or food
Other symptoms of anxiety include:
- feeling restless or nervous
- a sense of impending doom or danger
- rapid heartrate
- difficulty controlling worry
- chest tightening or pain
Both conditions can cause chest pain and other symptoms that are also symptoms of a heart attack. Call 911 if you have chest pain, especially if it is accompanied by shortness of breath or arm or jaw pain.
Treating GERD and anxiety may require a combination of medications for both conditions, though acid-suppressing drugs commonly used to treat GERD have been found to be less effective in people whose symptoms are related to anxiety.
How Do You Manage Stress
The two extremes are that some people can handle major upsets without batting an eye, while others become distressed at the slightest deviation from their normal routine. It is important to remember that in small doses, stress can be a good thing. It can give you the push you need, motivating you to do your best and to stay focused and alert. Problems accumulate only when stress is constant.
The specific signs and symptoms of stress vary from person to person, but the potential to harm your health, emotional well-being, and relationships with others is real. Stress affects the mind, body, and behaviour in many ways apart from the digestive tract, including weight fluctuations, head and muscle aches, mood changes, and altered mental function.
You must find your own way to deal with stress in your life. Pre-planning some events might be worthwhile to reduce your overall stress level. By understanding how you deal with stress, you can make lifestyle changes that will lower your stress level, help you better cope with stress, and recover from stressful events more quickly.
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Reflux And Stress Anxiety Depression
It seems quite likely that experiencing chest pain and other symptoms after eating can increase our stress level. According to a study from 2018:
This cross-sectional study revealed that anxiety and depression levels were significantly higher in subjects with GERD than in controls.
- GERD: gastroesophageal reflux disease, the chronic form of acid reflux
- NERD: non-erosive reflux disease, same as GERD, but the esophagus is not damaged
Looks like stress can cause reflux, which might cause more stress and so on
Can Anxiety Cause Stomach Bloating And Gas
- Distention and Ache in the Stomach In addition, anxiety is a common contributor to a wide range of digestive and intestinal health problems.
- This can lead to gas, bloating, indigestion, and a number of other disorders, all of which can cause significant discomfort in the stomach and the abdominal region, and may also contribute to a variety of various pains that haunt you on a regular basis.
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Attention: Your Stress Can Trigger Heartburn And Acidity
Yes, you heard it right! You must have noticed that before or during stressful situations like attending an important meeting, an office presentation, interview or meeting someone special, you tend to experience acid reflux or heartburn which is commonly referred to as acidity.
Stress or anxiety once in a while does not pose much concern, but stress over a period of time can have deleterious effects on our bodies. And stress is directly correlated to acidity, implying the more stress you take the more you experience the symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn. Its important to know how stress is related to acidity so that you can manage them both effectively.
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