Why Does Anxiety Cause Diarrhea
Many of the exact causes of anxiety and its symptoms are still being determined. However, the main reason that anxiety-induced diarrhea occurs is because of the way the body is reacting to the “fight or flight” system. The fight or flight system occurs whenever your body perceives danger, whether real or not.
During anxiety, your body makes the decision to either stay and fight the potential threat or to flee from the situation. While this innate mechanism was helpful for keeping human beings alive and out of unnecessary harm, the system may be triggered for no clear reason at all.
Anxiety is the activation of the fight or flight system when no dangers are present. When your body is in overdrive, it causes a surge of adrenaline to redistribute your blood flow to make sure that your key organs are taken care of. This means that blood flows more to your brain, heart, lungs, and muscles. During this time, your gut does not receive as much blood flow as it normally would, leading to poor stool health and intestines that are not processing food properly.
This decreased blood flow to your gut causes it to slow down. At this point, you might be asking, Well if my gut is slowing down, then why do I have to go? It turns out that some of these stress hormones can cause your large intestine to just evacuate . This is what can lead to the symptom of diarrhea whenever you are extremely anxious.
Things You Should Know About Stress
Everyone feels stressed from time to time, but what is stress? How does it affect your overall health? And what can you do to manage your stress?
Stress is how the brain and body respond to any demand. Any type of challengesuch as performance at work or school, a significant life change, or a traumatic eventcan be stressful.
Stress can affect your health. It is important to pay attention to how you deal with minor and major stressors, so you know when to seek help.
Here are five things you should know about stress.
Youre Having Trouble Concentrating
When youre too overwhelmed to focus on whats in front of you, it could be a sign youre overworked. Research has connected long-term exposure to excess amounts of cortisol to shrinking of the hippocampus, the brains memory center, says Tuit. Studies have shown that long-term stress stimulates growth of the proteins that might cause Alzheimers disease.
What to do: If you find that youre experiencing this during the workday, taking a few long inhales and exhales can help. Deep, even breathing not only affects whether or not our thoughts control us or we control them. It also affects the bodily sensations that are experienced when faced with a high-stress situation, says Tuit. This type of breathing can help control the heart rate and blood flow, as well as muscle tension, she says.
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Youve Become Indifferent Sexually
When youre stressed out and have a ton of issues on your mind, your sex drive is likely to decrease. You might be frustrated about it and wish you could do something about it, but when the opportunity arises, youll find yourself not being able to focus, or not being in the mood at all. Try to relieve stress by exercising often.
You Resort To Coping Mechanisms
After a hard days work, you might want to just go home and grab a bottle of beer from the fridge while you catch up on some TV. While theres nothing wrong with having a drink or two after youve come home and relaxed for a while, theres definitely a problem with drinking;in order to relax. Chances are youll wake up the next morning with an even higher level of stress than you went to bed with.;If you find youre relying on drugs or alcohol more and more in order to alleviate stress, you should seek help immediately.
If you make your own coffee in the morning, chances are youre only making the same boring kind everyday. Now its time to put an end to the cynical habit and turn you into an instant coffee connoisseur.
For those who dont know, there are officially 38 different ways to make coffee. All, except decaffeinated versions will give you the same buzz that can either make you extremely productive or give you anxiety.
The only difference here is taste. And when it comes to coffee, taste matters. A lot.
Most of the methods and ingredients from the chart above dates back hundreds of years and have been traditionally passed down from generation to generation. Hence, its actually possible to tell where a person came from based on the type of coffee he or she drinks!
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Diarrhea May Be A Sign Of Anxiety
It is impossible to deny the effects of anxiety and/or stress on your body’s gastrointestinal system. One of the most interesting aspects of diarrhea is that it can actually be a sign that you are suffering from anxiety – not just a symptom of that anxiety.
In fact, stress-related diarrhea may signal to doctors and psychologists that a person may be struggling with their mental health. Often people that experience unexplained diarrhea have stress issues that might hint at a possible long term anxiety and/or stress problem.
Youre Perpetually Sick And Just Cant Seem To Get Over It
If it seems like every week youve got a cough, sore throat or a fever, you might want to blame your workload and not just your sneezing coworker. When we are under extreme pressure, our bodies secrete a stress hormone called cortisol that can help us short-term, says Richard Colgan, MD, professor of family and community medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine and author of Advice to the Healer. But if youre stressed out constantly, these hormones arent as helpful and can become depleted over time. Colgan says cortisol and other hormones are components of the immune system that help the body cope with stress. But when these hormones are withdrawn, we become more susceptible to sickness.
And the side effects dont end there. Stress can also slow wound healing, contribute to the reactivation of latent viruses and increase vulnerability to viral infections, says Keri Tuit, clinical psychologist at Yale University.
What to do: Listen to your body when you feel tired or drained. Make time for rest and extra sleep. Whether you recently spent time traveling or finalizing a huge work project, allow your body the time it needs to recover.
A tired body is not well prepared to cope with stressful situations and ward off illness.
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Prevalence Of Stress Disorders
Post-traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder are stress disorders triggered by traumatic experiences. Currently, 3.5 percent of adults in the U.S. have PTSD during a given year. Acute stress disorder affects as many as half of all people exposed to a serious or life-threatening stressor.
What Are The Signs Of Stress
How you might feel
You may behave differently if youre stressed. You may:
- withdraw from other people or snap at them
- be indecisive or inflexible
- have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep
- experience sexual problems
- smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs more than usual.
If the stress is long-lasting, you may notice your sleep and memory are affected, your eating habits change, or you feel less inclined to exercise.
Some research has also linked long-term stress to gastrointestinal conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome or stomach ulcers, as well as conditions like cardiovascular disease.
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Your Jaw Has Seen Better Days
If you’re clenching up due to stress, then your back, neck, and shoulders will most definitely feel sore. But it can also affect your jaw, too. “Stress can manifest itself in the form of clenching or grinding your teeth,” says cosmetic dentist Mark Helm, DDS, in an email to Bustle. Besides ruining your dental health, clenching can lead to jaw pain. And that’s no fun at all.
And neither are any of these other symptoms. If you think stress is wrecking your body, then make it a point to get things under control. Remove yourself from toxic situations, plan some stress-reducing activities into your day, and remember to take care of yourself. Hopefully you’ll be able to relax before your stress-related symptoms get out of hand.
When To See Your Gp About Your Stress Levels
If you’ve tried self-help techniques and they aren’t working, you should go to see your GP. They may suggest other coping techniques for you to try or recommend some form of counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy.
If your stress is causing serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, you may need to take medication or further tests.
Mental health issues, including stress, anxiety and depression, are the reason for one-in-five visits to a GP.
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You Look A Little Worn Out
I think we can all agree everyone looks better when they’re relaxed. So, of course, the opposite is true, too. If you’ve been hella stressed, it can start to show up on your face in the form of haggardness and wrinkles. This is due to increased inflammation and free radical production, Schreiber tells me, which “exacerbate the aging process.”
Getting Immediate Relief For Your Tension Headaches
You can often feel a tension headache starting to build up in your head. You can feel the first signs of tension building up in the muscles of your head. When you sense that first sign of tension, slow down and stop whatever it is you are doing for a moment. Pay attention to the tension and accept it. This in and of itself may short circuit and stop the tension.
Other things that might help stop the buildup of tension are:
- Take a walk
- Take a moment and slow down whatever it is you are doing.
- Take some deep breaths to release your tension.
- Massage the muscles in your head and neck to release the tension. This can be very effective.
If none of these measures work, you might want to take an over the counter pain killer that you know and that works well for you. Experiment with your medication, and figure out the smallest does that will stop your headache effectively.
But the most important thing to do is to take measure that will help you prevent the occurrence of tension headaches in the future.
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Your Back Or Neck Is Always Aching
If youve got knots in your shoulders, a stiff neck or your lower back cramped up after a long day, it could be the constant of a job or personal situation, not just the position you sit in during the day. High levels of stress and tension create discomfort and muscle pain by tightening muscles and causing muscle spasms, says Dr. Colgan. And stiff muscles in your neck can also lead to headaches, he says.
If your back pain developed after an accident or emotional trauma, it could also be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder . The National Institute of Health recommends talking to your primary doctor, as many people arent able to heal their back pain until they deal with the emotional stress thats causing it.
What to do: Many relaxation techniques can help with stress reduction, including guided imagery, taking deep breaths from the diaphragm, meditation, massages and yoga, says Tuit. Try devoting time for stretching breaks throughout the day to help prevent muscles from tightening up. Make time for some of these yoga poses to unwind at the end of the day.
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How Often Can Diarrhea Occur
Those that suffer from persistent, regular anxiety may experience diarrhea at any time. During periods of anxiety, the brain tells the gut to slow or stop digestion, and the effects of that may be felt at any time. A person may experience diarrhea once a day, or they may experience it several times over a period of a few hours.
An exception is for those with panic attacks from anxiety. Panic attacks tend to trigger a more profound response in the gut. The intensity of these panic/anxiety attacks tends to have an immediate impact, and most of those with panic attacks will experience diarrhea either during or soon after an episode.
However, because those with panic attacks often also experience persistent or chronic anxiety, diarrhea can still occur at any time. Severe, frequent diarrhea should still be reviewed by a doctor to be safe.
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Work Stress Busting Tips
Every job is going to be stressful at some point. Whether you are working on a tight deadline or facing a make-or-break situation, here are a few ways that you can alleviate stress, at least to some extent.
Make the most of workday breaks.
Take some time to cool down and take a deep breath. A slow walk and deep breathing during the middle of the day can help center you.
Have a place to vent.
You might not want to discuss your work troubles work coworkers, as gossip can run rampant. But have someone you can talk to outside of work who will understand your situation.
Never let yourself become angry and lash out at work that will be detrimental to your work experience and lead to more stress. Find some way to blow off steam.
There are certain job standards you must live up to, but dont be pushed to go too far above what is reasonable for your pay grade. Never expect perfection!
Tweak your job description.
If you find that you are consistently doing work that is not in your job description, speak to your employer about either delegating that work to someone else or compensating you fairly for it.
Sexuality And Reproductive System
Stress is exhausting for both the body and mind. Its not unusual to lose your desire when youre under constant stress. While short-term stress may cause men to produce more of the male hormone testosterone, this effect doesnt last.
If stress continues for a long time, a mans testosterone levels can begin to drop. This can interfere with sperm production and cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. Chronic stress may also increase risk of infection for male reproductive organs like the prostate and testes.
For women, stress can affect the menstrual cycle. It can lead to irregular, heavier, or more painful periods. Chronic stress can also magnify the physical symptoms of menopause.
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Youve Become Overly Emotional
Lucie Hemmen, Ph.D, a psychologist in Santa Cruz, CA explains, When youre super-stressed, the brain stem the primitive part of your brain takes over, and the part that anticipates outcomes goes dark. This explains why being stressed will cause you to literally cry over spilled milk, or fly into a rage if someone honks their horn at you. Remember when you were a kid and would stay up way too late, and catch a case of the giggles? Same concept. Your body was so stressed out from exhaustion that even the slightest thing set you off, albeit in a silly way. When youre an adult, and your stress causes you to flip someone off for bumping into you on the subway, its not so funny.
What Are Some Strategies For Stress Relief
You cant avoid stress, but you can stop it from becoming overwhelming by practicing some daily strategies:
- Exercise when you feel symptoms of stress coming on. Even a short walk can boost your mood.
- At the end of each day, take a moment to think about what youve accomplished not what you didnt get done.
- Set goals for your day, week and month. Narrowing your view will help you feel more in control of the moment and long-term tasks.
- Consider talking to a therapist or your healthcare provider about your worries.
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Worldwide Impact Of Stress
While stress is a significant problem in the U.S., the rest of the world is not immune to its harmful effects. Stress is a global problem with:
- 91 percent of Australians feeling stressed about one or more important parts of their life
- About 450,000 workers in Britain believing their stress was making them ill
- 86 percent of Chinese workers reporting stress
The Effects Of Stress On Your Body
Youre sitting in traffic, late for an important meeting, watching the minutes tick away. Your hypothalamus, a tiny control tower in your brain, decides to send out the order: Send in the stress hormones! These stress hormones are the same ones that trigger your bodys fight or flight response. Your heart races, your breath quickens, and your muscles ready for action. This response was designed to protect your body in an emergency by preparing you to react quickly. But when the stress response keeps firing, day after day, it could put your health at serious risk.
Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone expresses stress from time to time. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a new diagnosis, war, or the death of a loved one can trigger stress. For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health. It can help you cope with potentially serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and ready your muscles to respond.
Yet if your stress response doesnt stop firing, and these stress levels stay elevated far longer than is necessary for survival, it can take a toll on your health. Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms and affect your overall well-being. Symptoms of chronic stress include:
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