Stress Stomach Problems

Stress stomach problems come in many types and IBS is a common one. What are some of the things you can do to relieve symptoms?

If you have anxiety you may experience stomach problems. With or without anxiety, when you are under stress you may experience a few stomach symptoms such as cramping, gas, or nausea, or you may experience full blown IBS–irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is the most common stomach stress problem and is found both in people suffering from anxiety disorders and in people suffering chronic stress, without an anxiety disorder.

IBS and Stress

Woman with a stomach problemsIf you have irritable bowel syndrome you experience alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea, frequently accompanied by bloating and other digestive disturbances.

Although not a life-threatening problem, IBS makes life miserable for millions of people. Women are more likely to suffer from IBS than men are.

The exact causes of IBS are not clearly understood, but stress and anxiety play a definite role in the problem. Stress hormones and other chemicals are increased in the brain when you are under stress. These chemicals signal the intestines to either slow or increase the motility of the intestines; the muscle contractions of your intestines become either too hard, leading to cramping and diarrhea or not hard enough, leading to constipation.

In other words, stress can either slow the passage of waste matter in the intestines or increase it.

And IBS also causes inflammation of the intestines.

Research on the link between stress and this disorder has been wide-spread. Researchers call the link between emotional upsets and the intestines the brain-gut connection. The mechanisms of the brain-gut connection are not clearly understood.

IBS affects each individual differently. You may only experience the time-consuming misery of frequent bathroom trips or you might experience the full range of gas, cramping, and bloating.

Some foods may irritate your condition, but may not trigger it in another patient; for example, some people have trouble with milk products, but other IBS patients feel that milk soothes their stressed out digestive system.

Research has shown that allergies to common foods, including dairy products, wheat and eggs, may contribute to IBS in some people, but the studies are inconclusive, since the foods that bother one IBS sufferer do not trigger problems in another patient.

Treatment for Stress Stomach Problems

Biofeedback, relaxation therapy, and psychological counseling can help IBS patients and people suffering from chronic stress, as well as people with anxiety disorders. Chinese traditional medicine recommends the disciplined, gentle exercise system known as Tai Chi, along with centuries old herbal remedies. A popular remedy for IBS is the herbal mixture known as Tong Xie Yao Fang, which dates from the 1600′s.

Ayurvedic medicine recommends mediation, yoga, and herbal remedies for IBS. Other alternative treatments include artichoke leaf extract and turmeric extract.

Probiotics are perhaps the most promising and available treatment for IBS. During studies at University College Cork, Ireland the probiotic bifidobacterium infantis was shown to regulate bowel movements in a significant number of Irritable Bowel Syndrome patients over the course of eight-weeks of treatment. Patients also reported significantly less abdominal pain and discomfort.

Other kinds of probiotics can help regulate a stressed out digestive system. Probiotics are available as tablet supplements and in yogurt and other products. Probiotics are generally considered safe because your digestive system naturally contains several forms of probiotic bacteria. These bacteria help your immune system fight unfriendly bacteria.

Hope for Stress Stomach Problems

Alternative medicine offers hope for the control and even the cure of stress stomach problems. Naturally, anything you can to do to reduce stress in your life will also help your stressed stomach. Reducing your stress and your stress reactions will bring better health to all parts of your life.

About Julia Rymut

Julia Rymut helps women find peace in their busy lives. She uses massage, essential oils, organization and a sense of humor to show that stress is a state of mind that can be changed. She lives in Madison, WI with her 2 kids and loves talking about history, traveling to exotic places, working out and walking in the woods.


  1. I am so glad that I found this info on this site. For the last few years, I have been having this problem ONLY when I’m at work. Sometimes my problem is so severe that I cannot go to work. My job is very stressful and by the time I get off work I’m exhausted!!! So exhausted I fall asleep as soon as I sit or lay down. This doesn’t happen on my days off.

    I was off on vacation for the month of May, and NOT ONCE did I have this problem! Someone mentioned to me that it could be because of stress, so I googled “Stress and Stomach ailments” and up pops your site. Now my question is:


    Numerous trips to the bathroom has an affect on my deadlines and causes me to call in sick. I have never, in my 26 years with this company, been so stressed out as I am now and have been for the last 3 years. Other than quitting my job, I have no idea on what I can do.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for this info. I will be making a trip to the doctor about the stress and the problems it’s causing my body.

    Stressed and sick of the mess,

    • You’re very welcome, RJ. I’m glad my site could help.

      I have absolutely no idea about Family and Medical Leave. You’ll have to consult with an expert to figure out that.

      But I do know that stress can affect us in many ways.

      Find out what is going on and then make a concrete plan to relieve your stress. Figure out how to improve your work and to care for your body. Remember to take little steps. Your body can recover–it just needs some TLC.

Speak Your Mind