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Your nervous and digestive systems are separate parts of your body, but their
relationship is reflected by the way anxiety and emotional stress can cause such
problems as indigestion, constipation, diarrhea and nausea. There are several reasons
for these and other digestive reactions to a person’s mental state.
The Sensitivity of Your Digestive Tract
The brain that generates mental anguish is the same organ that communicates with and
controls the rest of the body. A brain “overload” can thus deprive other elements of the
body, including the digestive tract, with the oversight and regulation needed to ensure
proper functioning. Additionally, emotional stress can result in the excessive production
of stomach acids, causing considerable discomfort.
Stress and Adrenaline Production
In times of stress, the body produces excessive amounts of the hormone adrenaline.
This hormone imbalance will affect the processing of nutrients, which will in turn affect
the functioning of your digestive system.
Effects on the Immune System
The immune system is important in protecting your body from disease and other threats.
However, the system can be influenced by emotional stress. In terms of digestion, an
imbalance in the different types of bacteria that protect the intestine and are important to
the metabolic process can affect the way the rest of the system functions.
Anxiety and Sleep Problems
Insufficient sleep is often associated with emotional problems. A body that is not
properly rested will have lower energy levels, which will affect the functioning of its
many elements, including the digestive tract.
The Reverse Effect
In addition to being affected by anxiety, the digestive system can produce its own
symptoms that can cause other problems. Chest pains generated by emotional stress
can create the additional fear of a more serious health condition.
Dealing With Digestive Problems
An ongoing digestive problem can be an indication of a serious internal problem and
deserves medical attention. In the event that the condition is related to anxiety, a doctor
may be able to offer solutions to both the precipitating and the consequential factors.
Good digestion often comes down to having a healthy diet, exercising and making sure
you get plenty of sleep.
If you are dealing with anxiety, it doesn’t hurt to talk to your doctor and ask if your gut
health might be the cause. Some simple tests can be done along with basic lifestyle
changes that will make a drastic difference in your quality of life.