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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.