Is Anxiety the Real Cause of Your Poor Digestion?

Tracking feelings of stress and anxiety may reveal a connection to digestion issues
October 15, 2018 Updated: October 15, 2018

Digestive issues are quite common nowadays, but how can you tell if they are stress and anxiety induced or caused by something more serious? Being aware of the symptoms can help you narrow in on the cause of your digestive woes.

8 Signs That Reveal Your Anxiety Is to Blame for Your Poor Digestion

You experience acid reflux: Anxiety increases acid in the stomach, which can be experienced as reflux.

You deal with regular stomach cramping: If your stomach cramping correlates with times of high anxiety or stress, this is a sign that the two are related.

You experience diarrhea before big moments: Prior to a big event—think public speaking or any other scenario that may stress you out—you may experience diarrhea and other digestive discomforts as a result.

You vomit when you’re stressed: Vomiting during anxious periods is the result of a brain chemical known as norepinephrine, which is often found in patients with anxiety. This chemical decreases blood flow to the gut and slows the release of gastric juices and digestive enzymes.

You experience constipation even though you haven’t changed your diet: When a person is constantly anxious or stressed, hormones are released that reduce blood flow to the gut. This can greatly slow down your motility and lead to constipation. Bowel movement may return to normal once the anxiety and stress are reduced.

You feel a rock in your stomach: The same chemical that induces vomiting can also trigger low-grade nausea, causing you to always feel “off.”

Your symptoms appear when you’re stressed: If you can document that you experience symptoms more so when you’re stressed, then that is a large indicator in itself.

You feel better when you reduce anxiety/stress: You don’t complain or experience digestive issues when you are relaxed and calm.

If these scenarios sound familiar, then you may want to seek ways to better handle your anxiety and stress and find more ways to manage these two triggers of digestive problems.

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University in Canada with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a canfitpro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. This article was first published on