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.
So What If The Quick Tricks Didnt Work
You know how we talked about physical symptoms coming before the psychological? Well, there may be a condition for that. Cases of irritable bowel syndrome , which you may have seen in countless TV ads, have been increasing.
While not every stomach issue is IBS, chronically coping with diarrhea thats linked to some form of mental distress could definitely indicate a condition is at the root of the problem.
Experts arent sure exactly what causes IBS which can cause a lot of the issues related to anxiety diarrhea but stress and anxiety are known triggers. In fact, IBS commonly co-occurs with anxiety and depression .
There are also some theories suggesting that people who develop IBS may have overly sensitive colons, which increases the chance of GI symptoms from specific foods or emotional experiences.
So again, youre very likely not imagining things if you feel like your anxiety goes off the charts and then your gut follows suit .
Tips For Treating And Overcoming Diarrhea Caused By Stress
There are medications to reduce and control usual diarrhea. But in this condition, diarrhea is being planted in your body by stress. So, such antispasmodic drugs can be taken only to reduce the possibility and prevent diarrhea in the short term. In such chronic diarrhea situations, you should treat the causes behind that condition. Either than having usual medication, you can have treatments to reduce stress and anxiety because they are the root causes behind your diarrhea condition. Following are some treatments for stress that can reduce stress-induced diarrhea.
- avoiding food that may further increase the effect of diarrhea
- avoiding alcoholic drinks
- identifying and testing causes behind your stress
- engage in mind relaxing activities
- make goals and contribute towards achieving them
If you are continuously having pre-discussed symptoms without any sign of cure, then you have to meet your doctor and discuss the condition. In this case, they will further assist you with critical medical attention.
Read Also: What Is The Best Treatment For Anxiety
Can Stress Trigger Diarrhea
Yes! Stress activates the stress response, which can affect the digestive system in many ways, including:
- Increases hydrochloric acid to speed up processing the food already in the digestive system, and
- Increases the urgency to urinate and vacate the bowels.
Consequently, stress can cause episodes of diarrhea.
Can Stress Cause Diarrhea Symptoms And How To Stop It
Stress is a mental state where you may feel down. It is entirely natural to experience stress in the event of pressure or threat. An adequate amount of stress may be good for you. It may make you feel energetic and focus on one thing. Apart from optimizing your productivity, it may be severe for your health if you get stressed excessively. Chronic stress can affect a persons quality of life and have adverse effects on both physical and mental health.
So, can stress cause diarrhea? Yes! Stress can possibly cause gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea. While there are many symptoms related to this condition, diarrhea is one of them. Throughout this article, we explain how diarrhea may occur due to stress. Also, we will provide tips on identifying symptoms of stress and diarrhea. Then the next section will feature treatments you could take to prevent stress caused by diarrhea.
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How Your Mood Can Affect Diarrhoea
We conducted an in-depth study with over 2 thousand sufferers of frequent and chronic diarrhoea from over 14 different countries and they shared their experiences with us.
- 42% said they put their diarrhoea down to stress and anxiety.
- 78% said they felt generally stressed.
- 53% said they were more stressed today than a decade ago.
Stress can be one of the causes of diarrhoea It can take its toll on digestion. After all, if your life and routine are out of their normal rhythm, your body could be knocked out of rhythm too.
When you experience stress and get anxious or nervous, your body produces adrenaline and other hormones, which speed up the function of your nervous system. This can make some of your muscles work too fast. If the muscles in your intestines speed up, the natural rhythm of your digestion will speed up too and cause an upset stomach.
Faster digestion means your intestines absorb less fluid, making your stools more frequent and watery – what we know as diarrhoea. Just a small reduction in the fluid you absorb can be enough to bring on a bout of diarrhoea. And, if you suffer from IBS, youre more likely to experience stress-related diarrhoea more frequently.
What To Do & How To Stop It
If you suffer anxiety and diarrhea, you should seek immediate medical help if you experience any of the following:
â¢ Blood in stools
â¢ Fever lasting 3 days or more
â¢ Severe abdominal pain
â¢ Rapid weight loss
â¢ Bowel movements do not relieve pain
If you do not suffer the above symptoms, treatments for diarrhea and stress-management strategies may improve symptoms. You may still wish to consult your doctor to confirm which treatment is right for you.
Recommended Reading: What Is An Anxiety Attack And What Causes It
How Your Mood Can Cause Diarrhoea
When you get stressed, anxious or nervous, your body produces adrenaline and other chemicals, which speed up the function of your nervous system. This can make some of your muscles work too fast. If the muscles in your intestines speed up, the natural rhythm of your digestion will speed up too.
Faster digestion means your intestines absorb less fluid, making your stools more frequent and watery – what we know as diarrhoea. Just a small reduction in the fluid you absorb can be enough to bring on a bout of diarrhoea.
Can You Prevent Stress
Unfortunately, keeping stress diarrhea at bay has a simple answer that’s not so simple to achieve: don’t get stressed. “Obviously, much easier said than done,” Dr. Newberry says.
But, if you can recognize stress and anxiety as a trigger, you can work on coping mechanisms to better deal with that stress. “Maybe it’s mediation practices, or trying to have better sleep patterns, or talking to a friend, or exercising,” Dr. Newberry says. “Whatever it is, if you’re able to destress as much as possible, you can prevent that trigger in the first place.”
There are also some behavioral changes that might help, especially if your typical response to stress is to do things that might exacerbate the diarrhea problem, like drink a bunch of coffee or fill up on foods that can trigger diarrhea, like fatty or sugary foods. If you know you’re going to be stressed, make sure your diet does the best to combat potential diarrhea. Dr. Newberry suggests focusing on soluble fibers like those that can be found in plain oatmeal, apples, and bananas. Simple changes can make a big difference.
Also Check: What Does It Feel Like To Have Anxiety Attack
So How Does Stress Lead To Diarrhea And Constipation
The main action may be happening in your digestive tract, but your brain and your gut are synced up more than you realize. Theres a reason you can feel stress in the pit of your stomachyour brain and gut talk back and forth nonstop, Dr. Staller says. Your gastrointestinal tract has many nerves and is a nervous system organ, much like the brain, he says. The brain can impact whats going on in the gastrointestinal tract, and vice versa.
When youre stressed, it actually causes spasms in your gut, Ashkan Farhadi, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center and director of Memorial Care Medical Groups Digestive Disease Project in Fountain Valley, California, tells SELF. How those spasms impact what comes out of your body depends on where they happen, he says. If the spasms are widespread, your whole colon is contracting, everything will move along quickly, and youll experience diarrhea. However, if the spasms are only happening in one area, it can hold everything up and cause or aggravate constipation.
In Dr. Stallers clinical experience, whether you get stress diarrhea or stress constipation will usually depend on your typical gut issuesif diarrhea tends to be an issue for you when you have poop problems, youre more likely to have diarrhea when youre tense or upset. The same is true for constipation. Stress will push you toward your usual default, Dr. Staller says.
Could It Be A Sign Of Another Condition
According to Lippman-Barile, anxiety poops are extremely common for people with preexisting gut issues, like irritable bowel syndrome . However, they’re not always connected.
“IBS includes a cluster of other symptoms like pain and cramping in the abdomen, diarrhea, changes in bowel movements, and gas and bloating,” she says. Anxiety poop, on the other hand, may just mean someone is nervous about a future event. It’s how the gut responds to stressful thoughts and feelings.
Anxiety poops won’t always lead to chronic digestive issues, either. When stress is properly managed, the symptoms may ease up.
Recommended Reading: How To Deal With Sudden Anxiety
How Does Anxiety Cause Diarrhea
According to Healthline, anxiety can cause diarrhea because of the “connection between your gut and your brain,” which is also known as the gut-brain axis. The website states that this axis connects your central nervous system to your enteric nervous system , which helps regulate the processes in your gastrointestinal tract that affect your emotions and behaviors. So when stress or anxiety occurs and your brain sends these signals to your gut, it can react with physical symptoms, like nausea or diarrhea.
“We all know that sometimes stress and anxiety might manifest in the gut,”Jill Deutsch, director of the Yale Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Program, tells HelloGiggles. “And for some people these are once-in-a-while symptoms, but for others, GI manifestations of pain and altered bowel habits are a regular occurrence.” According to Deutsch, these symptoms might fall under the umbrella of irritable bowel syndrome, otherwise known as IBS, which is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. “This is characterized by abdominal pain and change in bowel habits, either constipation or diarrhea, that typically relieves their pain,” she says.
Treating Diarrhoea With Imodium
Having diarrhoea can be stressful in itself, especially if youre already feeling under pressure. So dont hesitate in treating it straight away. IMODIUM® works in harmony with your body to help restore its natural rhythm, gently slowing digestion back down to a normal pace to relieve the symptoms of diarrhoea and giving you one less thing to feel anxious about.
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Diarrhea From Anxiety: How Does It Happen
The Gut-brain axis is the two-way link between your gut and brain and is responsible for anxiety-related digestive issues such as diarrhea. The axis is the connection between your central nervous system and your guts nervous system. The guts nervous system controls the gastrointestinal tract processes and can also impact your emotions through its connection to your brain.
When you are anxious, or under stress, signals are sent from the brain to the gut. The gut responds in the form of physical issues such as nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. Since its a two-way connection, if you have an upset stomach or other digestive problems, anxiety and distress are common outcomes.
What Are The Symptoms Of Anxiety Poop
Experiencing an urgency to poop before or after a stressful event is a sign of anxiety-induced poop. Oftentimes, people will acknowledge this physical symptom without connecting it to the accompanying anxious feelings, but holistic psychologist Nicole Lippman-Barile, Ph.D., says when it occurs habitually, the two go hand-in-hand.
Recommended Reading: Can Anxiety Cause You To Throw Up
What Has Science Shown Recently
Science has recently illuminated some fascinating links between the brain and the gut. These insights are helping us to understand the connection between diarrhea and anxiety.
â¢ Anxiety increases the speed of transit of food through the gut. One study showed that generalized anxiety disorder causes physical changes to the digestive system. The transit of food from the mouth to rectum was found to be 14 hours, on average, in anxiety patients â much faster than the 42 hour-average in controls. Anxiety was therefore shown to physically alter speed of transit through the intestines, explaining the link between diarrhea and anxiety.
â¢ Hypnotherapy over Skype reduces symptoms of IBS. Researchers showed that symptoms of IBS improved in 65% of subjects who received hypnotherapy delivered online over Skype, compared to 76% with face-to-face treatment. Although slightly lower, the significant rate of Skype hypnotherapy means access to this form of IBS treatment could be greatly expanded.
Relieve Your Pets Stress
Its not unusual for pets to suffer stress-related diarrhea, especially when it comes to car rides or veterinary visits. Heres how you can help relieve the causes.
With a dog or cat who tends toward an anxious outlook on life, visiting the veterinarian can be a big stress. One of the most obvious signs of that stress can be diarrhea. Pet diarrhea is stressful for your pet and for you, the family, too! A fecal-filled carrier, loose stool in the crate, and an unhappy pet covered with stool are unpleasant for all involved.
Recommended Reading: Why Do I Have So Much Anxiety
Stress & Anxiety Can Also Lead To Ibs
Irritable bowel syndrome is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects around 11% of the population. IBS symptoms occur due to a complex biological reaction between the brain and the gut.
For you to correctly understand IBS, it’s important to recognize that it represents a heightened sensitivity of the bowel in response to certain external or internal factors. While it is not a psychological disorder, it has come to be linked with both stress and anxiety.
We have learned that stress and anxiety trigger spasms in the gut which affect bowel motility and cause diarrhea. Additionally, they can negatively impact the bodys immune system which in turn triggers IBS symptoms.
In fact, stress has been shown to increase motility in the colon to a greater degree in people with IBS as compared to healthy individuals without IBS. IBS thats triggered by stress and anxiety may come with the following symptoms:
- Stomach pain which is sometimes relieved by bowel movement
It is important to note that irritable bowel syndrome is not a psychological disorder. However, stress can trigger it due to reactions in the digestive systems.
Also, individuals who suffer from IBS may be more sensitive to emotional distress, and this triggers the symptoms as well.