What Are Some Common Intestinal Symptoms Related to Stress?


Quick Answer

Upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea are some common intestinal symptoms related to stress, according to HealthDay. Chronic stress and anxiety may have a correlative link to more severe intestinal conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

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In many individuals, excessive stress disrupts the digestive process. A series of nerves connected to the central nervous system controls digestion, as Everyday Health explains. When stress or anxiety cause a "fight or flight" response in the brain, the process may cause the digestive system to shut down involuntarily, contract or become inflamed, causing intestinal symptoms, such as constipation and diarrhea.

A link exists between intestinal symptoms and chronic stress resulting from generalized anxiety disorder and other psychiatric conditions, states WebMD. Patients with irritable bowel syndrome frequently suffer from an anxiety disorder or depression. Stress may exacerbate symptoms of IBS, such as constipation, diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramps. This may be due to the digestive system's physical response to stress or because patients with anxiety disorders are more likely to notice minor changes in their intestines.

Stress may also worsen the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, as noted by HealthDay. Chronic stress may increase the production of acid in the stomach, potentially causing heartburn.

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