Anxiety can be categorized as a mental health condition, and it is characterized by a wide range of symptoms. The condition can include an extended pattern of nervousness, significant worry, or fearfulness.
It can also lead to some physical symptoms in some people. When stressed or anxious, it’s not uncommon for some people to have diarrhea, which is commonly referred to as anxiety diarrhea. This reaction is not unusual for some people with anxiety.
Notwithstanding, it’s not impossible to manage the symptom of anxiety diarrhea, or minimize how it affects your life. Why don’t you read on to find out how, why it happens and how to manage it?
Diarrhea, including other digestive issues that often accompany anxiety, can manifest because of the link between your brain and your gut, which is known as the “gut-brain axis.”
The axis links the central nervous system to the ENS (enteric nervous system), which acts as the gut’s nervous system. The enteric nervous system helps to monitor and regulate the activities in the gastrointestinal tract.
Nevertheless, this process also has an effect on a person’s behavior and emotions through its connection to the brain. When a person is distressed, chemical messengers transmit signals fro the brain to the gut.
Sometimes, the stomach reacts to these signals by displaying physical symptoms that include nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.
Furthermore, if a person has digestive problems or gastrointestinal tract problems, they might also experience psychological symptoms as well. Experiencing irritable bowel syndrome or other related conditions is connected to an elevated risk of anxiety, including other mood symptoms.
Identifying Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you continuously experience diarrhea when in distress, it would be safe to rule out IBS. This condition can cause a person to experience diarrhea when they feel anxious.
Experts aren’t exactly sure what causes the condition, but stress and anxiety have been noticed to trigger irritable bowel syndrome flare-ups.
It is also speculated that people who have IBS may have an extremely sensitive colon. The level of sensitivity can increase the chances of having gastrointestinal tract symptoms, mainly when a person eats specific foods, experiences anxiety, or any other emotional complications.
Many people suffer from both IBS and anxiety. Studies have shown that irritable bowel syndrome commonly co-manifest with depression and anxiety. Living with any of the condition can elevate a person’s risk for the other, and also increase symptoms they already have.
General signs of Irritable Bowel Syndrome include:
- Increased gas
- Stomach cramps
- Constipation and diarrhea
- Worsen symptoms when you smoke, take too much caffeine or eat some foods such as wheat, dairy, red wine, and others.
- Discomfort abs pain in the abdomen that keeps coming back or doesn’t go away
If you have been experiencing these signs for over three months or more, you may have IBS.
Managing anxiety diarrhea
Getting proper help for anxiety (which triggers anxiety diarrhea) can guarantee a big difference in both physical and mental symptoms. Meeting with a health professional is an excellent place to start.
A mental health therapist can help you with a treatment option that best handles the situation, either therapy or the combination of medication and therapy.
Many people who experience gastrointestinal tract symptoms and depression or anxiety often notice that antidepressants help them feel better with both sets of symptoms. Also, some lifestyle changes can also help a person with anxiety manage their symptoms.
Some of the following can help with diarrhea and many other stomach complications;
- Staying hydrated
- Avoiding tobacco and alcohol
- Regular exercise
- Minimizing the intake of caffeine
- Maintaining a balanced diet that includes lean protein, whole grains, with fruits, and vegetables
Learning to cope with stress and anxiety is also important in managing anxiety diarrhea. Your therapist, if any, can help you explore different coping methods.
When a person starts to experience discomfort in your stomach, these are some of the steps you can take to help you get better:
- Slowly take in deep breaths to help you minimize anxiety to help you calm the discomfort in your stomach.
- You can also take short walks.
- It helps to stay relaxed. You can do some relaxation exercises to help manage your anxiety.
- In situations where you can’t go outside, you can try some indoor meditation, stretches, or yoga.
- Get in touch with your loved ones. Keeping in touch with people who care about you can serve as support and make the discomforting situation more manageable.
- You can also try grounding techniques. Most people find it easy to relax when they try grounding techniques.
For effective results, it may help to take note of your daily activities, both at work and at home. This makes it easy to target stressors and eliminating them quickly.
Careful analysis of everything you do can help reduce the unnecessary load from your shoulders that may cause anxiety. If these triggers are things you can avoid, then look for someone who can easily do them for you.
Seeing a doctor
Meeting with healthcare professionals can help if you are experiencing both digestive problems and anxiety. Still, it is even more essential to meet with your doctors if you notice no changes after you’ve made adjustments to your lifestyle.
Other reasons why you may want to fix an appointment may include:
- Vomiting for no apparent reason
- When it gets too hard to swallow food
- When you’re experiencing weight loss
- Bloody stools
- When symptoms worsen or don’t go away after many weeks when you experience diarrhea at night
- When has and bowel movements do not help with the cramping or pain
The situation can be analyzed by a medical professional to quickly determine what triggers the symptoms and provide possible treatments, including dietary changes that could be used to relieve symptoms of anxiety diarrhea.
Discussing the situation with a therapist is highly recommended, mainly when the symptoms are affecting the quality of your life negatively.
Have you been experiencing anxiety diarrhea? What steps did you take to get better? Are there tips or suggestions you’d like to share with us? Kindly use the comments section below.