Anxiety Bloating Or Fullness Constipation And Depressed Mood
- Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Reviewed on 10/15/2020
Feeling bloated or full can accompany constipation due to any cause, including irritable bowel syndrome or dietary factors. Anxiety and depressed mood can be responses to illness or may be features of a mental health condition such as anxiety disorder or a depressive disorder. If you are experiencing symptoms that trouble you, be sure to discuss the situation with your doctor.
While the list below can be considered as a guide to educate yourself about these conditions, this is not a substitute for a diagnosis from a health care provider. There are many other medical conditions that also can be associated with your symptoms and signs. Here are a number of those from MedicineNet:
Could Stress Be Causing Your Bloated Stomach 7 Things This Expert Says You Should Do
Bloated stomach again? Stress could be the culprit. Nutritional Therapist Hannah Braye reveals how stress can affect the gut plus seven ways you can reduce symptoms
Lock-down has changed many aspects of our lives how we shop, how we work, how we exercise and how we socialise.
Its fair to say 2020 has been a stressful year for many.
Its also bought many additional stressors into our daily lives, including child-care issues, health anxieties, money worries and emotional upheaval from missing our loved ones.
Given how intrinsically linked gut health and mental well-being are, its therefore unsurprising that many people also report a worsening of digestive issues during times of stress.
How does stress affect the digestive system?
The digestive system is especially vulnerable to the presence of chronic stress, and digestive discomfort is often an early warning sign that stress might be affecting you physically.
The digestive tract contains its own nervous system , comprising a network of nerve fibers and neurons that are influenced by signals from the brain.
The digestive tract contains its own nervous system
In this sense, the gut is an integral part of the nervous system, so the brain can easily affect gut function, and vice versa.
When our fight or flight response is activated, blood supply to the digestive system is diverted to other organs of the body such as the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.
Ways To Cope With Stress And Anxiety
There’s proof that keeping your stress under control can help you prevent or ease IBS symptoms. Hereâs why. Your gut has what you can call a brain of its own. It’s the enteric nervous system. And it’s the reason you get butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous. This âsecond brainâ controls how you digest food. It also constantly talks with your actual brain. This connection may help you manage your IBS.
What you can do on your own
You can zap tension by simply doing something fun, like talk to a friend, read, listen to music, or go shopping. You might also try:
Exercise. Walking, running, swimming, and other physical activities can reduce stress and depression. They also help your bowels contract in a more normal way instead of overreacting.
Mind-body exercises. Meditation, relaxation breathing, yoga, tai chi, and qi gong can all trigger your body’s relaxation response.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction classes and meditation. You can find courses offered online and in person, often at universities. They help you learn to manage stress by changing the way you think. Or you can learn to meditate online, in a class, or from a book.
Relaxation exercises. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing can help you restore calm. You can also learn about visualization, where you imagine a peaceful scene.
When to consider therapy
Therapies to treat IBS focus mainly on behavior. Types of therapy that may be helpful include:
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Digestion Feeling Off This Common Reason Could Be Why
Somewhere between washing your hands 25 times a day, panicking about job stability, stressing over the state of the country, co-working with your significant other from the kitchen table, and notsleeping, you start to feel it. Not simply overwhelmed, but physically offcrampy, bloated, gassy, andwell, lets just say your new form of cardio is sprinting to the bathroom. Could stress be whats causing your diarrhea and digestive issues?
Theres no denying it: Stress can royally mess with your digestion. Numerous studies have linked psychological stresswhether from too much work, lack of work, losing a loved one, or managing your kids Zoom class scheduleto a range of digestive symptoms, which, left unmanaged can lead to more complications. And, per a recent Gallup poll, more than 60 percent of Americans say they experience significant stress on a daily basis, so thats a whole lot of potential GI discomfort.
But why does stress have this effect, and what are the short and long-term implications? Here, we dive into the science and what you can do about it.
Tips To Soothe Stress
Combating these unpleasant side effects of stress comes down making a conscious effort to slooooow down. This will help activate your parasympathetic nervous system. When the parasympathetic system is in a dominant state, the body is conserving energy, its slowing your heart rate, its increasing digestive secretions and enzymes, and its relaxing the sphincter muscles in your digestive system, says Franceshini.
Here are some things Franceshini uses with her members at Parsley Health to engage the rest and digest system address the root cause of your stress and support your bodys digestive processes:
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How To Treat Constipation And Bloating
Constipation and bloating can feel similar in some ways, but they are in fact very different and have their own causes. Although they usually disappear with time, sufferers are understandably keen to treat them as quickly as possible. Keep reading to find out more about constipation and bloating and how to relieve yourself of them.
The Enteric Nervous System
The enteric nervous system or âsecond brainâ describes the nerves lining the digestive tract. These nerves consist of hundreds of millions of neurons and control the digestion of food. They also send signals from the gut to the brain. It is thought that in states of anxiety, disruption to the ENS-brain connection reduces motility through the gastrointestinal tract, leading to constipation. This represents a malfunctioning of the âgut-brain axisâ, which connects the gut to the brain.
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What To Do To Stop Anxiety Constipation
It would be great if there were some type of exercise you can do to control constipation caused by anxiety, but unfortunately as long as you still have anxiety, your body is still likely to continue to be constipated. It’s the nature of the effects of anxiety.
There are some strategies that could at least help a little bit. Ideally, try to avoid laxatives unless instructed by your doctor. While they may be useful for stopping constipation, they also have a tendency to cause dehydration which can make your anxiety symptoms worse. What you should do:
- Eat Well There are two main additions to your diet than can help relieve your constipation. Eat more fiber and drink more fluids. If you know there are foods that make you more constipated, avoid them.
- Exercise Exercise is both an anxiety cure and a healthy way to move food through the digestive tract. Studies have shown that when you exercise, you process food at a much faster rate. The more intense your exercise, the better it is for both your anxiety and your constipation, so strongly consider introducing healthy exercise into your daily routine.
Take measures to reduce your stress and anxiety This is the most important thing you can do, and it could include taking a mindfulness training, learning to accept your anxiety so that it will dissolve or going into therapy to locate and let go of the causes of your anxiety.
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Counseling And Stress Relief
Many people who seek care for IBS also have anxiety, panic, or depression. Stress is also an issue for people with IBS because it can make the symptoms worse. Research shows that psychological therapy can help ease IBS symptoms. Therapies that can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy , a short-term treatment that mixes different types of therapies and behavioral strategies. The type of CBT used to treat IBS may focus on managing life stress. Or, it may focus on changing how a person responds to anxiety about IBS symptoms.
- Dynamic psychotherapy,;an intensive, short-term form of talk therapy. It may focus on in-depth discussions about the link between symptoms and emotions. The therapy may also help people identify and resolve interpersonal conflicts.
- Hypnotherapy, where people enter an altered state of consciousness. Visual suggestions are made to imagine pain going away, for example.
General stress relief is also important. Exercising regularly is a good way to relieve stress. It also helps the bowel function better and improves overall health. Meditation, yoga, and massage may also help.
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Anxiety Issues And Bowel Problems
- Anxiety has a strong affect on the gut, and ultimately the bowel.
- Anxiety can both speed up AND slow down intestinal movements.
- Several issues indirectly related to anxiety can also cause stool problems.
- Different types of bowel problems warrant different treatments.
- Only anxiety treatment will reduce the frequency of bowel issues in the future.
How Is Ibs Diagnosed
See your doctor if you think you may have IBS. Your doctor will ask you questions about your health, ask about your symptoms, and examine you. He or she may even perform a rectal exam. There are no tests that can show for sure that you have IBS.
Your doctor may also perform medical tests to rule out other diseases if you have red flag symptoms such as:
- Rectal bleeding
- Family history of;,;, or;
Medical tests include a colonoscopy . The doctor looks inside the large intestine by inserting a scope with a tiny camera to spot inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers. People over age 50 with IBS symptoms should also have a colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer, even if they don’t have any “red flag” symptoms.
A doctor may also perform a blood test to check for celiac disease if you have certain types of IBS. These types are IBS-D or IBS-M . A doctor may also check for celiac disease if you have bloating or pass a lot of gas.
Lactose intolerance may also be a concern for some people, and can be checked with a breath test.
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Does Stress Cause Constipation And Why
Chronic and sporadic stress disrupt regular bowel movements and contribute to constipation. Adding fiber, fluids, and laxatives to alleviate constipation makes it worse, and perpetuates stress even more. The information on this page will help you break this vicious cycle.
Yes, it does, and very significantly.
All of the above equally applies to infants, toddlers, children, adults, and particularly to seniors, who are already affected by many other problems related to constipation.
Sorry, I cant help you to reduce stress, but eliminating constipation certainly will take the brunt of it!
To learn more about the connection between stress and constipation, and how to prevent or reverse stress-related constipation, please visit this page for additional information.
Stress tends to recede and go away, but not constipation. Once it hits you, it tends to linger for the rest of your life, and to get more severe with each passing year for reasons I explain on The Bulls’ S..t In The China Shop page.
Here is what you can do to prevent this from happening to you:
It is a well-established fact that some people respond to exact same stressful event less or not at all, while some a great deal stronger.; This means that it isn’t the stress event alone that is the sole culprit behind health-related problems, but the ways your mind processes it.
If You Have Heartburn You May Need To Increase Your Stomach Acid
Even though you can feel the burning sensation of stomach acid as it creeps up the esophagus, toward the throat, it is essential to ask how the stomach acid got there in the first place.
When it comes to heartburn, low stomach acid is the most common offender.
The esophagus is naturally alkaline, and stomach acid is naturally acidic. When the two meet, of course, there is pain. The solution is not to make the stomach acid weaker, or more alkaline. Unfortunately, this is what many physicians suggest as they write a prescription for a proton pump inhibitor or antacid.
The solution is to make your stomach acid more acidic.
In between the stomach and the esophagus is something known as the lower esophageal sphincter . The LES is a one-way valve that allows food to enter the stomach while preventing gastric acid from entering the esophagus.
Excess pressure in the stomach can prevent the LES from doing its job correctly. The result is heartburn.
Pressure, or gas, is the byproduct of multiplying bacteria. When we increase stomach acid, there is more opportunity to control bacterial overgrowth.
Another way to control bacterial overgrowth? Limit foods that feed bacteria. This means cutting back on carbohydrates and leaving things like bread and refined grains out of your diet. Incorporate cultured vegetables and probiotic beverages to nourish the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
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Stop Smoking To Prevent Reflux
Smoking can weaken the muscle that controls the lower end of the food pipe and allow acid from the stomach to travel in the wrong direction back up, a process known as reflux.
Reflux causes the symptoms of heartburn, and can bring on or aggravate;stomach ulcers and inflammatory conditions of the bowel.
Smoking is also an important risk factor for stomach cancer.
All Told There Are Ways You Can Ease Your Stress Diarrhea Or Stress Constipation
Obviously, if your digestive system is acting up, it might be an indication to take it easy and try to reduce some stress wherever possible in your life. And since thats often way easier said than done, it might be time to pick up some stress-relieving activities like meditation, exercise, or other self-care tips. Stress-reduction techniques through cognitive behavioral therapy can also work, Dr. Staller says. You can also be mindful of what youre doing, eating, and drinking when youre under pressure to see if that helps.
If the stress-related poop issues have already hit, there are some things you can do to make the experience slightly less miserable. First off, over-the-counter medications like anti-diarrheals or laxatives can help to either stop diarrhea or get things moving, Dr. Staller says. Beyond that, there are temporary lifestyle changes you can make on your own. If youre dealing with diarrhea, the Mayo Clinic recommends drinking plenty of clear liquid like water, broth, and juice, and avoiding foods like dairy products, fatty foods, high-fiber foods, or highly seasoned foods. If youre dealing with constipation, exercising and increasing your fiber intake can move things along, the Mayo Clinic says.
So there you have it: Can stress cause constipation and diarrhea? You bet.
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Stress Effects On The Body
Stress affects all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems.
Stress effects on the body.
Our bodies are well equipped to handle stress in small doses, but when that stress becomes long-term or chronic, it can have serious effects on your body.
When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stressthe bodys way of guarding against injury and pain.
With sudden onset stress, the muscles tense up all at once, and then release their tension when the stress passes. causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness. When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body and even promote stress-related disorders.
For example, both tension-type headache and migraine headache are associated with chronic muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck and head. Musculoskeletal pain in the low back and upper extremities has also been linked to stress, especially job stress.
Relaxation techniques and other stress-relieving activities and therapies have been shown to effectively reduce muscle tension, decrease the incidence of certain stress-related disorders, such as headache, and increase a sense of well-being. For those who develop chronic pain conditions, stress-relieving activities have been shown to improve mood and daily function.
What Is The Treatment For Ibs
There is no cure for IBS, but there are things you can do to feel better. Treatment may include:
- Changing your diet
Your doctor may give you medicine to help with symptoms:
- Fiber supplements;such as psyllium to help control constipation.
- Anti-diarrheal medications, such as loperamide , to help control diarrhea.
- Antispasmodic agents;such as peppermint oil or dicyclomine to slow contractions in the bowel, which may help with diarrhea and pain.
- Antidepressant medications;such as a tricylcic antidepressant or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor if symptoms include pain or depression.
- IBS medication. A medication known as Lubiprostone is approved by the FDA for women with severe IBS-C .
Take your medicine exactly as your doctor tells you to. All drugs have side effects and may affect people differently. Tell your doctor about any over-the-counter medicines you take.
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Diet And Stomach Stress
Interestingly, increasing evidence suggests that gut troubles may also have an impact on anxiety and stress – suggesting the gut-brain axis works both ways.
Dr Ashton highlights the importance of looking after gut health more generally, such as consuming a balanced diet and taking probiotics. And if you suffer from IBS or allergies, take time and effort to manage your condition – eg by eating a low-FODMAP diet and avoiding foods that aggravate stomach issues.