Stomach pains? Anxiety? What’s happening?

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Have you ever had a stomachache so painful, so irritable that you feel like you can’t move? Have you ever wondered what was causing this horrible, undeserving pain? Did you find yourself questioning what you ate that day over and over again? Well, sometimes it isn’t the food we eat that causes us to feel the hell risen in our stomachs…

Findings from Stress and the sensitive gut :

Stress and other environmental factors can contribute to the discomfort we sometimes feel in our stomachs. Each one of us has been in the middle of an uncomfortable situation before. You know, that feeling you get when your nerves start going and you can’t decide whether you should avoid or confront the stressor. That feeling is called our fight or flight response. As we become increasingly nervous, our digestive system significantly slows down and then comes to a complete stop. The energy we use to digest our food now serves a different role. It is used to protect ourselves from the stressor we are facing. The anxiety that builds up inside of us can then cause nausea and increase the amount of stress we feel substantially. In less stressful situations, our digestive system continues to function but at a much more gradual pace. In these cases, a person might experience abdominal discomfort and other symptoms like constipation and distension (bloating of the abdomen as a result of air build up).

Findings from Could this Be the Hidden Culprit Behind Your Sensitive Gut? :

While some only experience the occasional stomachache, others struggle with gastrointestinal disorders . According to Harvard Health Publications, “functional gastrointestinal disorders affect 35% to 70% of people at some point in life, women more often than men.” Types of gastrointestinal disorders include: celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease etc. Symptoms from these disorders can range from mild to extreme nausea, constipation, distension, and bloating (Harvard Health Publications). Those who struggle with these disorders consistently experience stomach discomfort independent of stress. So have you ever considered if the reverse is true? Could your stomachaches be causing you to feel anxious and stressed?

Findings from Anxiety In Your Head Could Come From Your Gut :

…Well, it is important to note that while stress can cause a person to experience gastrointestinal pain, the reverse can in fact be true as well. Stomach pains and the nausea that comes along with them can cause a person to become stressed.

Dr. James Greenblatt, a psychiatrist and staff member experimenting in the field of psychopharmacology at Tufts Medical School in Boston, worked with a patient that struggled with various digestive problems, attention deficit disorder (ADHD), and extreme obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Dr. Greenblatt first took a standard urine sample from his patient to check the level of harmful bacteria in her system. He found that her levels were too high, and suspected that this was the cause for her stomach pain and anxiety. In response, he prescribed her a trial of strong probiotics to increase the amount of good bacteria in the body as well as antibiotics to protect against the bad kind. Finishing the course of medicine given to her, Mary’s count of clostridium (a harmful bacterium found in the intestinal tract that causes extreme stomach pain typically due from food poisoning) significantly decreased ( Her obsessive-compulsiveness and attention deficit problems disappeared in the span of a year, and Mary is currently in great health.

Mary’s case is a great example of how the opposite is true. Poor gastrointestinal health can cause anxiety inside the mind just as anxiety can cause our stomachs to feel uneasy. Levels of bacteria in our bodies can have an effect on how we behave and how we feel. Not all bacteria is harmful to us; however, it is important that we build up bacteria that fuels our bodies to become a stronger defense against the bacteria we don’t want.

1 thought on “Stomach pains? Anxiety? What’s happening?

  1. Gulianna E Garry

    This was a really interesting and relatable article! For all of my junior year I had terrible stomach anxiety because of test taking. During one SAT I almost had to leave the room because I had such bad stomach anxiety. My senior year I stilled carried over this anxiety and I often would feel this pain in my stomach when driving long distances. This was an interesting blog explaining why this may happen to me and other people. Here is a link explaining why we get stomach anxiety.

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