Friday, December 2, 2022

Can Stress Cause Upset Stomach

When Should You See A Doctor For Gastrointestinal Problems

How to Calm an Upset Stomach Naturally

Mild or occasional digestive problems due to stress are common. However, this doesnt mean that you should dismiss these symptoms.

Tell your doctor about symptoms such as nausea, stomachache, cramps, or diarrhea. The more your doctor knows about your health, the better the quality of care you receive.

These symptoms could indicate a manageable digestive problem, such as irritable bowel syndrome. The American College of Gastroenterology states that 10 to 15 percent of U.S. adults have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome however, only five to seven percent of adults have been diagnosed with IBS.

Talk to your doctor if you experience stress-related digestive problems. Your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist.

Sometimes Abdominal Pain Is Physical And Mental

If you have a gastrointestinal condition such as IBS, Crohns disease, or ulcerative colitis, stress or anxiety can exacerbate your symptoms. This can make your physical and mental health even more inextricably linked.

This relationship can be cyclical, Sperling says: Stress or anxiety can prompt gut inflammation and intestinal spasms, leading to more GI symptoms, which can just translate to more stress or anxiety. Its pretty unfair. If you have a GI condition and feel like youre stuck in this rhythm, talk to your doctor to see if theres a way to make your gut and your brain get along a little better so that you dont have to suffer.


Dont Miss: How To Lose Big Stomach

How To Relieve Stomach Pain Symptoms

There isnt necessarily a cure for the stomach pain symptoms themselves. When your body is under stress, your stomach tends to hurt based on the acids in your stomach and the foods youve already eaten. If you have stomach pain as a result of an anxiety attack, you may need to wait it out.

Water can help a little, however. So consider sipping cool water. Antacids may also be beneficial in some cases, but if you have stomach pain often, you may not want to depend on antacid treatments.


Stomach pain from anxiety can be caused by several stress-related issues, including abdominal tension, digestion issues, and irritable bowel. Although the stomach pain may be caused by anxiety, the acids in the stomach are still very real. There are ways to treat both your stomach discomfort and anxiety.

Was this article helpful?

You May Like: How To Tell If Your Stressed

Ways To Help Reduce Stress And Stomach Pain

According to a poll that tracks negative experiences of people in 115 countries, 2020 was the year the world reached its highest stress peak in over 15 years. Around 40% of the surveyed population reported experiencing significant stress.

While you should see a doctor if your stomach pain is severe, prolonged, or recurring, there are things you can do to calm a nervous stomach and help reduce the kind of stress and anxiety that could lead to stomach problems.

What Can You Do

How to soothe an upset stomach: 21 home remedies

You do not have to be a passive victim of anxiety-triggered diarrhea. There are a variety of stress management techniques that you can use to help your body to become more resilient in its response to outside stressors.

Two activities that have been associated with reducing your body’s baseline anxiety level are yoga and meditation. Practicing one or both of these on a regular basis will help you to deal more effectively with the stressful situations in your life that arise.

There are also some relaxation techniques that you can use “on the spot” to help your body to turn off the stress response and thus hopefully quiet down your bowels, sparing you from further diarrhea episodes. These include visualization, deep breathing exercises, and muscle relaxation exercises. Like all skills, these relaxation exercises are more effective when they are practiced on a regular basis.

If you are under a lot of stress a lot of the time, it is also important to take an objective look at your life to see if changes can be made to reduce your overall stress level. Problem-solving and assertiveness skills can be utilized to make your life more comfortable.

It may be helpful to initiate some psychotherapy to help you to better manage the stresses and challenges that are contributing to your stress-induced diarrhea.

Also Check: What Can I Do To Release Stress

How To Calm An Anxious Stomach: The Brain

Ever wonder why you get butterflies in your stomach before doing something stressful? Or why you feel like your stomach is tied in knots after an argument? Ever had a meeting with a toilet that went longer than expected and it wasnt caused by anything you ate? Stomach problems are one of the most common symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Researchers have identified a powerful connection between the gut and the brain. Like the brain, the gut is full of nerves. It contains the largest area of nerves outside the brain with the digestive tract and the brain sharing many of the same nerve connections.

Whether its a single nerve-wracking event or chronic worry and stress over time, stress can exact a physical toll on your digestive system. When you are anxious, some of the hormones and chemicals released by your body enter your digestive tract, where they interfere with digestion. They have a negative effect on your gut flora and decrease antibody production. The resulting chemical imbalance can cause a number of gastrointestinal conditions.

Common stress-related gut symptoms and conditions include:

  • indigestion
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • and peptic ulcers

Six Tips for Reducing Stress and Anxiety

  • Although stress is a normal part of life and impossible to avoid, there is good news. You can manage your stress so that it reduces its impact on your stomach. Here are six tips that can help you reduce stress AND the related tummy troubles.
  • Why Does Stress Upset My Stomach

    Your digestive tract has its own nervous system called the enteric nervous system . It contains 100 million neurotransmitters, neurons, and nerves that are located throughout your entire gastrointestinal system. Have you ever been excited or nervous and felt like you had butterflies in your stomach? Or got some bad news that made you feel sick to your stomach? Or maybe youve got a gut feeling about someone after first meeting them. These are all examples of how your emotions can physically affect your digestive tract.

    Don’t Miss: Can Stress Cause Rib Pain

    Managing The Symptoms Of Stress

    Theres no easy way to prevent stress from causing problems in your stomach and gut. One option is to avoid eating when youre feeling particularly stressed within a short period e.g. before an exam or speaking in public.

    However, avoiding food isnt a good long-term solution. If youre regularly experiencing stress and this seems to be causing frequent digestive problems, its a good idea to talk to a doctor.

    Your GP should be able to offer you some stress-busting techniques, and may be able to refer you for counselling or therapy. Treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy can be good for breaking anxious thought patterns and recognising stress triggers.

    Additionally, your GP will be able to assess your symptoms and work out if your digestive problems might be caused by something else.

    Symptoms like stomach pains, changes to your bowel movements , indigestion, and heartburn should be checked by a GP if they havent improved within a couple of weeks. You should also go to the doctor if you experience any bleeding from the bottom, difficulty swallowing, or unexpected weight loss.

    How Does Stress Affect The Stomach

    4 Ways Stress Could Be Hurting Your Stomach Tips For Relief | Dr. Roshini Raj

    The gut has hundreds of millions of neurons that can work quite independently they are called the enteric nervous system. These gut neurons are constantly in communication with the brain.

    • Stress often results in hyperacidity that can cause stomachache.
    • Stress and acidity can disrupt brain-gut communication.
    • Stress and fatigue decrease the pain tolerance thus, slight pain, bloating, nausea, and other stomach discomfort become more noticeable.

    Because the brain and gastrointestinal system are physiologically linked, your stomach or intestinal discomfort might be because of anxiety, stress, or depression.

    This is especially true when your gastrointestinal distress has no clear physical reason. It is impossible to cure a troubled stomach for such functional GI illnesses without recognizing the effects of stress and emotion.

    Stress during childhood can alter the development of the neurological system and the way the body responds to stress. These changes may raise the chance of developing gastrointestinal illnesses or malfunction later in life.

    If stress is high, vomiting occurs. Furthermore, stress can induce an unnecessarily high or low appetite. Unhealthy diets affect mood negatively.

    Recommended Reading: How Can I Control Stress And Anxiety

    A Word From Mindset Health

    The nervous system and stomach issues are intimately linked. If you experience diarrhea or other IBS symptoms and mental health conditions such as anxiety disorder, there are treatments available to help you manage stressful situations and improve your anxious stomach. Relaxation techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy may help to improve GI symptoms and improve your upset stomach, with hypnotherapy through apps like Nerva being especially helpful.

    You May Like: Can Anxiety Make You Shake

    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.

    Don’t Miss: How To Stop Stress Eating Sugar

    Why Does Stress Cause Stomach Pain Or Gi Discomfort

    We know through research there is a strong connection between our brain and our gut through the central nervous system. The enteric nervous system an out-branching of the central nervous system serves the GI tract, making a direct connection between our brain and gastrointestinal system. That connection can cause normal physiologic processes to be interpreted as painful under stressful or anxiety-provoking situations.

    When were stressed, hormones and neurotransmitters are released in the body. This can negatively impact gut motility, or the way our intestines and stomach squeeze and move waste through the body. Also, stress can affect the delicate balance of bacteria in our gut, causing GI discomfort.

    People experiencing chronic stress may also eat more or eat unhealthy foods with a higher amount of natural and artificial sugar that is poorly digested and causes GI distress. People may also smoke and drink more alcohol or caffeine than normal which can cause symptoms.

    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.

    Don’t Miss: How To Reduce Stress Immediately

    The Connection Between Stress And Diarrhea

    Stress and your gut are connected more than you realize. First, stress affects the muscles in the bowels and intestines. This can affect the ability of intestines to filter out harmful gut bacteria. Two out of three times, the immune system runs to the rescue with inflammatory responses.

    However, when you are stressed over a long period, your intestines keep messing up their filtration duties. Your nervous system reacts with more inflammatory responses, which can lead to a mild diarrhea case.

    The most common connection between chronic stress and diarrhea is hormonal changes. In response to stress, a psychological reaction occurs .” rel=”nofollow”> Fight-or-Flight Response). This response activates the release of hormones that gets the body ready to take action.

    At the same time, your brain sends a signal to your bowels to increase bowel movement in the large intestine. This leads to a mild case of diarrhea.

    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:

    • Tums
    • Pepto-Bismol
    • Rolaids

    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.

    Was this article helpful?

    You May Like: How To Counteract Stress Hormones

    Could The Relationship Between Your Anxiety And Stomach Issues Be The Other Way Around

    Just like how our brain can communicate with our gut, our gut can communicate with our brain. Evidence has shown that your stomach pain or other gastrointestinal symptoms may be contributing to your feelings of anxiety.

    It is believed that gut bacteria can impact the parts of our brain that manage stress and emotional behavior. So, an imbalance of our microbiome can influence stress-related behaviors such as anxiety. This can then begin a vicious cycle where anxiety about stomach pain causes the stomach pain to stick around as a symptom of anxiety.

    Who’s At Risk For Stress

    How to Calm an Upset Stomach Naturally

    If you almost always have to rush to the bathroom when you’re stressed, you might worry you have some underlying gut problem, like irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease . However, that’s not always the case. Someone without diagnosable stomach problems can still experience stress-related diarrhea, Dr. Ganjhu says.

    However, there is a chance that a nervous stomach points toward bigger gut problems. “IBS is a blanket term for when people have abnormal bowel patterns and we don’t have another diagnosis,” Dr. Newberry says. If bowel changes can’t be attributed to bacteria, infection, inflammation, or another disease, doctors call it IBS . Irritable bowel syndrome isn’t very well understood, but researchers do believe it has something to do with a sensitive enteric nervous system, Dr. Newberry says.

    However, Dr. Ganjhu points out that there are strict criteria for the diagnosis of IBS: a change in bowel movements associated with pain that gets better once you poop, and three bouts of this stomach pain within three months. If your stress diarrhea is less frequent, it’s unlikely a doctor would diagnose you with IBS. But, IBS and other chronic gut illnesses can certainly lead to sensitive stomachs during stressful times.

    RELATED: Exactly What to Eat When You Have Diarrhea, According to a Gastroenterologist

    You May Like: How To Not Get Stressed Out

    Eat Properly To Help Your Digestion

    It’s very easy to spend our working lives eating on the move or at our desks, gulping down food between meetings and then crashing out in front of the TV with a takeaway in the evenings.

    But eating this way can play havoc with our digestive system.

    Follow some basic rules to prevent problems:

    • Do not rush your food. Take the time to eat slowly. Try putting your fork down between bites and chew each mouthful well.
    • Do not overeat. Reduce the size of your portions at mealtimes, or try eating 4 to 5 small meals instead of 3 large ones.
    • Eat regularly and try not to skip meals.
    • Avoid eating a big meal just before you go to bed. Eat your last meal at least 2 to 3 hours before lying down.
    • Make sure you have plenty of water to drink.

    What Causes Anxiety Related Upset Stomach

    Scientists have many different theories about why anxiety causes an upset stomach. One of the key beliefs is that anxiety causes changes in neurotransmitter function, particularly serotonin. There are serotonin receptors in the gut, and so when your body is experiencing anxiety, it’s likely receiving chemicals that tell it to respond with that upset feeling.

    Other causes include:

    • Adrenaline Body Changes Adrenaline works with cortisol, the stress hormone, to allow the body to respond to danger quickly. These hormones may change the general physiological traits of the gut. Further, the ratio of good versus bad bacteria in the GI system may be altered by these hormones.
    • Slowed Digestion Anxiety activates the fight or flight system. Studies have shown that the speed of digestion decreases as a result of the fight or flight system, and this may cause discomfort in the stomach and intestines as a result.
    • Stomach Tension Anxiety also puts a great deal of pressure on the stomach muscles, and these, in turn, put pressure on the stomach. Any stomach pressure has the potential to change the way that your stomach feels during periods of stress.

    All of these are potential issues that lead to problems with your stomach during periods of stress.

    Also Check: Can Stress Cause Lower Back Pain

    - Advertisement - spot_img
    Popular Articles
    Related news