There are a variety of physical symptoms that most people don’t realize are directly correlated with anxiety. Abdominal pain is one of these symptoms, and this article will explain how the two are interconnected, and the various tools at your disposal to treat your underlying anxiety.
It’s important to note that there are many, many causes for abdominal pain, ranging from mild conditions to life-threatening illnesses. Before you embark on any type of self-treatment, you must go to a doctor to rule out any other illness that may be causing your pain. Common causes of abdominal pain include irritable bowel syndrome, Chrohn’s disease, appendicitis, and hernia. However, some studies have shown that children who report abdominal pain are five times more likely to report having an anxiety disorder later in life.
After having a checkup with your doctor and coming out with a clean bill of health, it’s time to entertain the possibility that your condition may have a psychological cause. When you experience anxiety, it triggers the ancient “fight or flight” response, causing a surge of adrenaline to race throughout your body, leading to all sorts of physical sensations. One of these physical sensations is often abdominal pain, and this is why you’ll never find its cause through any medical test. The first step to eliminating anxiety to reduce or eliminate an extraneous stressors in your life. This is not the time to allow yourself the opportunity to stress over a multitude of petty situations. Simple steps such as creating a space in your house, most often in your bedroom, that is relaxing and allows you to get a good night’s sleep can have profound effects on your mental well-being. Sleep is something that many of us do not get enough of, and it’s a necessity for anyone who wants to overcome anxiety.
Also, it’s vitally important to reduce or eliminate caffeine from your diet. Caffeine is a stimulant and can have a counter-effect on your efforts to relax. In general, maintaining a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains will be very beneficial in your anxiety-elimination program. Exercise is also vitally important to treating anxiety. Engaging in cardiovascular exercise for at least five to six days a week has been shown to have a wonderfully therapeutic effect on those who suffer from anxiety. Unfortunately, the mental health benefits of exercise have not been publicized nearly as much as its physical health benefits. When you get your heart rate going, mood-boosting endorphins are released in your brain, promoting an overall feeling of well-being. Cardiovascular exercise can include anything from walking to swimming, whatever you are most interested in. As long as you get your heart rate up, you are effectively getting the health benefits from exercising. Yoga is another form of exercise that has been shown to effectively treat anxiety. Yoga is an ancient art that, although it’s not classified as a cardiovascular exercise, can also alter chemicals in your brain that promote well-being. The chemical that yoga induces is called GABA, and it’s the same chemical that is typically targeted by anti-anxiety medication.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also very beneficial for anxiety. This type of therapy literally restructures your way of thinking and aids you in challenging unrealistic thoughts. Despite common misconceptions, this is not the same as positive thinking. You will not be encouraged to always thinking positively, but rather, realistically. Common cognitive distortions include catastrophizing, or “making a mountain out of a molehill,” and focusing only on potential negative outcomes while minimizing the possibility of positive outcomes.
By employing these methods, you’ll soon find that your abdominal pain decreases along with your anxiety.
Johnson, Kate. “Childhood Abdominal Pain Linked to Adult Anxiety.” Medscape Medical News. 5 Jan 2013.