Can anxiety upset your stomach

Can anxiety upset your stomach?

Many of us have suffered from an upset tummy at least once in our lives. The intensity of the cramps can make it hard to concentrate on anything else. The funny noises that accompany an upset tummy can make you very self-conscious when you are around people and cause you to become anxious. Anxiety in turn can either cause you an upset tummy or worsen the effects of an upset stomach, sometimes referred to as irritable bowel syndrome.

Can anxiety upset your stomachIrritable bowel syndrome occurs as a result of anxiety because of the close connection between your brain and your intestines. Whenever you experience stress that leads to anxiety your brain and your body will respond. Signs that may tell you whether you are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome are the following:

  • Pain in your abdomen
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Cramps
  • Bloating
  • Nausea

These symptoms tend to come and go and they do not become worse over time. Even so, an upset tummy can disrupt your daily life and affect both your self esteem and your body image so that you may feel less confident about yourself or your abilities.

There are some serious, treatable illnesses that can manifest in an upset tummy, so it is important to check with your doctor to ensure that you don’t have any of these.

If anxiety is the main cause of your upset tummy, the first step should be to treat your anxiety. Because anxiety is so closely related to stress it is important that you either relieve stress or counteract its effects through relaxation and coping techniques. Aromatherapy and reflexology has been successfully used to relieve both anxiety and the bowel symptoms associated with it. At home you can practice breathing exercises and meditation to further help your mind and body to relax. Cognitive behavioral therapy may teach you how to view or handle stress more effectively. Learning these skills will not only help you to overcome your anxiety but it will also alleviate the discomfort of an upset tummy. It may sound like hard work, but if you consider the emotional pain that your anxiety is causing you it may just be worth a try.

While you are beating anxiety, and always know that it is possible to beat anxiety, you can try herbal remedies to alleviate the symptoms of an upset stomach. Peppermint oil can relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. You can either use it in capsule from if you are not very fond of the taste of peppermint. Alternatively you can drink a refreshing cup of peppermint tea. Chamomile is another herb that can be used in combination with peppermint to help ease your upset stomach, and it has the potential advantage of relieving anxiety and sleeplessness. Depending on your personal taste, you can use chamomile in capsule form or in the form of herbal tea.

Whenever you are faced with an upset stomach the worst thing you can do is to become more anxious about it. Anxiety will only worsen the condition and steal your joy of living. Many others, just like you either have battled with anxiety in the past and won, or are battling with anxiety right now. You don’t have to be its victim. With time, patience and a little effort you too can beat anxiety.


Ford-Martin, Paula; Odle, Teresa. “Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. 2005. (October 3, 2012).

“Chamomile.” National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012. (October 3, 2012).

“Peppermint Oil.” National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012. (October 3, 2012).

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