How Stress Causes Stomach Pain
This type of stomach pain due to stress is also called functional gastrointestinal disorder. There is no organic reason such as infection or cancer etc found in such cases. Our body has complex network of nerves. It begins from the brain and reaches to almost all the body part.
The intestinal nervous system helps the food to get digested and to expel the remnant waste from the body.
When a person is under stress, the brain releases hormones and chemicals to fight or fly the situation. This hormones and chemicals enter the digestive system and increase the intestinal motility causing conditions such as diarrhea and stomach pain. On the other way round, if the nervous system slows down the digestive process and resources all the internal energy to fight stress, it may give rise to constipation and stomach pain.
Most of the time minor events like attending an important meeting, public speaking or giving an exam etc may trigger a stressful response in people leading to gastrointestinal disturbance and stomach pain.
Should I See A Gastroenterologist About My Upset Stomach
If youve been experiencing unpleasant digestive symptoms for 2-4 weeks, it might be time to see a doctor. Perhaps youve tried some of the recommendations listed above but arent getting relief, or maybe you have an underlying feeling that something just isnt right. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends that patients should see a doctor if their digestive upset lasts for more than two weeks. You should also see a doctor immediately if you experience any of the following in addition to stomach discomfort:
- diarrhea that lasts for more than two days
- frequent vomiting or vomit that looks like it contains blood or coffee grounds
- pain in the chest, neck, jaw, or arm
- unexplained weight loss
When Is Stomach Pain Most Likely To Occur
If you have anxiety, stomach pain can occur at any time even when no anxiety is present. However, many people experience stomach pain during panic attacks.
The exact link between an anxiety attack and stomach pain is not clear, other than the fact that during a panic attack, your body is under a considerable amount of stress, and your hormones are often on overdrive. Also, those with anxiety attacks are prone to hyperventilation, which may lead to symptoms that create stomach pain.;
Also Check: Can Stress Cause Your Heart To Skip Beats
How Is The Treatment Done
The use of antacid medication like Pepsamar, or medication that decreases the production of acidity in;the stomach, such as Omeprazole or Pantoprazole, is advisable for the treatment of;stress-induced gastritis and should be recommended by a doctor. However, continuous use of these medications isnt recommended, so the treatment of emotional issues that trigger the symptoms with psychotherapy, relaxation techniques such as meditation, a balanced diet and regular physical activity is the best course of action. A great home remedy for gastritis is chamomile tea, which should be taken 2 to 3 times a day to activate its calming effect. Other natural calming herbal remedies include valerian, lavender and passion-flower blossoms tea.
Panic Attacks Cause Abdominal Pain
A panic attack can be harrowing. It comes with physical symptoms such as the following:
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
It is also known to cause abdominal pain as well as diarrhea. Someone who has experienced panic attacks may tell you they felt like they were dying. They would not be exaggerating.
You May Like: How Do I Handle Stress
What Anxiety Chest Pain Feels Like
Anxiety symptoms are rarely the same from person to person. Some days, symptoms arent even the same for the same person. Anxiety presents itself in a variety of ways, and that makes detecting or understanding symptoms difficult.
Chest pain associated with anxiety feels different for each person. Some people may experience chest pain on a gradual basis. For others, the pain may be sudden and unexpected. Anxiety chest pain can be described as:
- sharp, shooting pain
- an unusual muscle twitch or spasm in your chest
- burning, numbness, or a dull ache
- stabbing pressure
- chest tension or tightness
If you dont have a history of chest pain with anxiety, you may be alarmed. Many people assume theyre having a heart attack and go to the hospitals emergency department for treatment.
An estimated 25 to 50 percent of patients who come to the emergency department with low risk chest pain experience moderate to severe anxiety, according to 2018 research.
If you visit a hospital emergency room and the doctors dont find a specific cause for your chest pain, consider consulting with your doctor about other possible causes, including anxiety.
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 gotten bad news that made you feel sick to your stomach? Or maybe youve gotten 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 Heart Problems
Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety
In fact anxiety is associated with a host of physical symptoms, including headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, along with a racing heart, shakiness or sweating symptoms older people experience when theyre having a panic attack.
All these physical symptoms are related to the fight-or-flight response triggered when the brain detects danger. All of them have a purpose, notes , a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. When she talks to kids about anxious headaches or stomach aches, she explains the role of each. For instance, she says, your stomach hurts because your digestive system is shutting down to send blood to other areas of your body. You dont want to be digesting food at that moment because youre trying to either flee danger or fight danger.
Dr. Domingues assures children that these symptoms are not harmful theyre just their emergency system responding to a false alarm. But its important to understand that kids arent necessarily inventing their symptoms, and the danger may feel very real to them. Dont assume a child who spends a lot of time in the nurses office at school is doing it intentionally to get out of class. Her acute anxiety may be causing her pain.
Headaches and stomach aches related to anxiety are still real feelings, and we want to take them seriously, says Ms. Greenspan.
Pain Is Another Way Your Brain Communicates
If you feel discomfort identifying and talking about distressing emotions, like sadness, anger, and shame, this could cause feelings to manifest differently in the body.
If youre experiencing any of these physical symptoms for a prolonged period of time, make an appointment with your primary care doctor or nurse practitioner. If you dont already have a provider, our Healthline FindCare tool can help you connect to physicians in your area.
According to the American Psychological Association, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting 14.8 million American adults each year.
Depression can be caused by a variety of factors, such as genetics, exposure to childhood stress or trauma, and brain chemistry. People with depression often need professional help, like psychotherapy and medication, to fully recover.
So at your appointment, if you suspect these physical symptoms might be more than surface level, request to be screened for depression and anxiety. This way your healthcare provider can connect you with the help you need.
Also Check: How To Avoid Stress Acne
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.
Eye Problems Or Decreasing Vision
Do you find that the world looks blurry? While depression may cause the world to look grey and bleak, one 2010 research study in Germany suggests that this mental health concern may actually affect ones eyesight.
In that study of 80 people, depressed individuals had difficulty seeing differences in black and white. Known by researchers as contrast perception, this might explain why depression can make the world look hazy.
Read Also: What Are Signs Of Post Traumatic Stress
Can Anxiety Give You Diarrhea
Absolutely. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that when a person experiences extreme anxiety, the body responds by releasing certain hormones and chemicals in response. These can disrupt the delicate balance of the gut microbiome, leading to diarrhea. In addition, anxiety changes how the brain reacts to signals from the GI tract, causing the brain to misinterpret anxiety as an indication that digestion is moving too slowly. This causes the brain to send signals to speed up digestion, leading to a churning feeling in the stomach and intestines and resulting in loose stools.
Here Are Two Signs Your Abdominal Pain Could Be Mental
Whether your stomach cramps strike every time you have to take a flight or before big work presentations, it could be a sign that youre so stressed its affecting your gut.
Theres a clear connection between the brain and our emotions and how our body feels, says Sperling. Realizing that your abdominal pain always crops up around moments of fear, stress, or anxiety can help you figure out that your emotions are behind the discomfort.
If you already know you have anxiety but are having a hard time managing this symptom, talk to your doctor or therapist to see if any tweaks in your treatment may help. If youre not sure your abdominal pain is connected with changes in your emotions, consider keeping a journal for a few weeks to chart how you feel and how your pain comes and goes in response.
In the event that your GI issues do seem tied with mental health concerns like anxiety, a mental health professional may be able to help you through methods like cognitive behavioral therapy . This form of therapy aims to help people identify and change unhelpful thoughts and behaviors to live healthier, happier lives. If youre interested in trying it, heres a guide on how to find an affordable therapist.
While undeniably horrible in the moment, panic attacks are highly treatable with medication, therapy such as CBT, and coping mechanisms like deep breathing, according to the Mayo Clinic. See your doctor or therapist for help if you think youre having panic attacks.
You May Like: How Does The Body React To Stress
Here Are Six Signs Your Abdominal Pain Could Be Physical
Many triggers of abdominal pain are situational, James Marion, M.D., a gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, tells SELF. Unfortunately, sometimes the situation in question is a nasty bout of foodborne illness.
Something as seemingly harmless as trying a new dish at a restaurant could leave your stomach feeling wonky. So can making these food safety mistakes when youre cooking at home.
Foodborne illness can set in hours to days after eating something contaminated, though sometimes it might even take weeks, according to the Mayo Clinic. In any case, food poisoning can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain and cramping, nausea, vomiting, watery or bloody diarrhea, and a fever.
You can also burp, fart, have abdominal pain, and experience other gas symptoms due to things like swallowing too much air as you chew or drinking a lot of carbonated beverages. And sometimes gas is a symptom of a condition like irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease, in which case youll experience other signs that something is physically wrong, like bloody diarrhea and constant exhaustion.
While its not always true that specific abdominal issues come with specific kinds of pain, certain conditions do tend to have characteristic types of discomfort that potentially make them easier to identify.
What Causes Anxiety Chest Pain
When youre anxious, your body can and often does produce physical reactions like sweating or shortness of breath.
When you become anxious, your brain and body set off an immediate stress response. This includes a physiological change. Your body may tighten up or grow tense.
A stress response can also include a psychological or emotional response. You may become aggressive or upset more easily. These responses are referred to as the fight-or-flight response. When you become stressed or anxious, your body prepares to fight back or run away.
If you experience this fight-or-flight stress reaction infrequently, your body should fully recover within 30 minutes. But if you experience it frequently, your body cant recover as quickly. This can lead to increased muscle tension, and this tension may become painful in your chest.
Likewise, in an even more stressful moment, your heart rate may increase, and the force of your heartbeats can grow stronger. That combined with tight chest muscles can make you feel unusual pain.
If you feel anxious, there are some simple techniques you can try. These techniques may not work every time, but theyre a great starting point when you need help managing your anxiety.
You May Like: How To Stop Stress Breakouts
Can Stress Cause Stomach Pain
Anxiety and stress are closely related. But they are technically different conditions. It is possible to experience a significant amount of stress without experiencing anxiety. Yet the causes of stomach pain from stress are similar. Muscle tension, digestive issues all of these are also caused by stress and may contribute to stomach pain.
Anxiety Chest Pain Vs Heart Attack Chest Pain
Chest pain is a concerning symptom, and its usually best to seek emergency medical attention if youre experiencing it. Even if the chest pain cause is anxiety, its better to know than to risk missing valuable time if youre having a heart attack.
People describe chest pain in a number of ways when theyre having a heart attack. Some examples include:
- chest pain that radiates to other parts of your body, such as down your arms or up to your jaw
- chest pain that worsens with exertion
- nausea along with chest pain
- pressure in the chest, as if someone has put something heavy on your chest
- rapid heart rate
- shortness of breath
- squeezing sensation in the chest
An estimated 30 percent of patients who are having a heart attack dont have chest pain, according to 2020 research. Some people report symptoms like back pain and fatigue as part of their heart attack symptoms.
While doctors know there is a connection between anxiety and chest pain, you still shouldnt ignore your symptoms and seek medical attention.
Recommended Reading: Does Stress Cause Brain Tumors
Effect Of Anxiety On Your Digestive Tract
Stress and anxiety can have a physical effect on your digestive system. Anxiety causes some hormones and chemicals released by your body to access the digestive tract. While there, they play havoc with your digestion.
This impacts negatively on your gut flora; microorganisms that are found in the digestive tract that help with digestion. Interference in the digestive process causes a decline in the production of antibodies, thus creating several digestive-related problems for you.
You may then experience symptoms such as:
- Cramping in the stomach
Anxiety can be caused by any number of factors from public speaking to family get-togethers. If your gut cramps every time you have some event coming up, it may be due to anxiety.
Think back to times when you have been stressed or anxious. How did your stomach behave? Did you feel an ache or sudden onset of heartburn? If your answer is in the affirmative, you may have experienced anxiety-related stomach pain. If you already deal with anxiety, a doctor or therapist can help you manage it.
One way to keep track of your stomach troubles journaling. A few weeks of journaling should reveal if is caused by mental issues. You can associate your discomfort with the immediate event before trouble struck.
Moreover, it helps you chronicle how your aches come and go as your tummy responds to stress and anxiety.
In General What Conditions Do Gastroenterologists Treat
Gastroenterologists can evaluate for and treat a wide variety of conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease , gastroesophageal reflux disease;, celiac disease, peptic ulcer disease, obesity and more. GI doctors also routinely perform screenings for colon cancer.
My area of specialty is in prevention and early detection of cancers such as colorectal, gastric and pancreatic cancer. I enjoy helping patients, especially those with a family history, understand their risk for cancer while offering genetic testing, screening and more.
Overall, its important for patients to openly discuss stress and GI symptoms with their doctors. Primary care doctors can help manage stress and treat symptoms, but in some cases it may be necessary to see a gastroenterologist to evaluate for other conditions.
Read Also: What To Eat To Reduce Stress