When one thinks of anxiety symptoms, bowel problems are probably the last thing that comes to mind. However, there is a definite link between the two, and this article will describe it in detail and show you how to overcome the anxiety that has been plaguing your life for so long.
What happens in our minds has a direct effect on our bodies, and this is nowhere more clear than in the case of anxiety. When you really think about it, it makes sense that living in a constant state of tension can have disruptive effects on your digestive system. If you are currently having problems with digestion, be sure to seek professional advice from a doctor, as there are a variety of conditions that can cause this. Your doctor will run a variety of tests on you to make sure there isn’t an underlying physical condition, the most common being irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating gas, diarrhea and constipation.
Once you’ve been given a clean bill of health, it will be time to address your anxiety and how it’s causing you to feel sick. Studies do in fact show that 60 percent of people who suffer from the aforementioned irritable bowel syndrome meet the criteria for a psychiatric disorder, and many have comorbid(two or more) disorders. Some doctors speculate that the anxiety may not lead directly to digestive troubles, but people who suffer from IBS are more sensitive to their emotions. Others believe that anxiety makes its sufferers hyper aware of their digestive problems, and some theorize that IBS occurs as a direct result of a deficiency in the immune system, often caused by stress. Fortunately, it has also been shown that stress management can provide an effective treatment for IBS symptoms.
You can begin dealing with you stress by monitoring your breathing. Make sure that you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest. Take a deep breath in, hold it for five seconds, and then slowly let it out. Try to visualize something relaxing as you do this, or focus intently on the world around you. Don’t worry if you become distracted, as this is very common in the beginning. Just refocus your thoughts, and continue doing this until you begin to feel relaxed. Making a daily practice of this is one of the best things that you can do for your anxiety.
Also, try to cut back on the caffeine in your diet, as it can exacerbate anxiety symptoms. Instead of drinking that morning coffee, why not try a relaxing up of chamomile tea? There are a variety of herbs out there that can be used to treat anxiety; just make sure to do your research and learn about any possible interactions with medication you may already be taking.
In addition to cutting back on caffeine and taking herbs, you should try to improve your overall diet. This can mean cutting back on fatty foods and sugar, and replacing refined grains with whole wheat. The Center for Disease Control recommends a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and with a moderate amount of dairy. Getting at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day is also recommended, and this includes any activity that gets your heart rate up. Not only is cardiovascular exercise good for your body, but it’s also good for your mind, as the endorphins it releases can lessen the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Yoga can be very helpful as well, as it promotes GABA levels in the brain, the same levels that are targeted by anti-anxiety medications.
“Stress, Anxiety and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. <http://www.adaa.org.> 20 Jan 2012.