Your stomach’s in knots and you have the sudden urge to run to the bathroom. But what is causing this problem? Is it something you ate, a medical condition or too much stress or anxiety?
Experts provide suggestions for figuring out what’s actually causing gastrointestinal problems, and if there is any link to anxiety and stress.
Kristen K. Brown, a celebrity stress coach and the “Queen of Stress Relief,” said in an email that a common symptom of anxiety and stress is stomach issues.
“Take a quick life inventory,” Brown said. “If your schedule has been tight or you're going through some difficult challenges at work or at home, stress could definitely be a contributing factor to your stomach problems. And often when we are stressed, we become emotional eaters of foods that may not be the healthiest or that we don't normally eat, which can lead to stomach problems as well.”
She added that other psychological conditions can lead to stomach problems, such as depression.
Elika Kormeili, a licensed therapist and founder of Center for Healthy and Happy Living, said in an email that stress can lead to gastrointestinal issues like stomach ulcers, gas, diarrhea, costipation and bloating. Sometimes stress can increase your chances of suffering from colitis and irritable bowel syndrome as well.
“Keep in mind that research has shown that stress weakens the immune system,” Kormeili said.
“Typically, when GI problems are due to stress and anxiety, symptoms worsen during periods of heightened stress. When faced with stress and anxiety, some people scream, others cope using food/drugs/alcohol, and still others present with somatic problems (physical complaints). Typically, if you take a detailed history of the physical symptoms, you can trace it back to periods of [heightened] stress and anxiety (poor emotional coping).”
She added that any psychological conditions could lead to stomach problems, since they are an additional stressor for the body to handle.