When an anxious or stressful situation arises, your body instinctively reacts. Often, within a very short period of time, you notice that your digestive system has reacted by bloating, belching, gas pains, or other discomfort. You may wonder if there is a direct correlation. The answer is “Yes.” This reaction is related to the “fight or flight” syndrome. That is an automatic reaction to immediate danger (like a tiger charging toward you) and your ability to make a fast decision to either run or stand and fight. Experts tell us that the anxiety that occurs, from any number of different causes, can cause bloating. 1,2,3
Bloating is a physical condition when excess gas collects in your stomach. Typically, your stomach will feel stretched. Bloating may include lower-back pain, visible swelling, vomiting, nausea, cramps, belching, shortness of breath, flatulence, and/or diarrhea. Swallowing too much air, dealing with some types of chronic health issues or a having menstrual period can each cause bloating, but more often it is caused by anxiety.
How Can I Reduce Bloating?
Reducing anxiety-causing activities will help. Using any technique that has helped in the past to lower your stress is likely to assist with reducing bloating.
- Try turning on some soothing music to listen to
- While sitting in a comfortable chair
- And sipping peppermint or ginger tea.
- Perhaps try some meditation
- Or close your eyes and visualize being in a place you want to visit.
- Go outside and lie in a hammock or a lounge chair
- Listen to the sounds of nature
Is Bloating Dangerous?
When anxiety is causing bloating there is discomfort, but not usually an immediate danger. There are times when danger is present related to bloating. Some people bloat due to a reaction to sorbitol and fructose in processed food. Neither of them digests well in the lower intestine of humans. A lack of enough exercise can cause bloating. Not having the “good” bacteria in your gut due to over using antibiotics or not eating fermented foods can cause bloating.
There are three types of dangerous bloating: diverticulitis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and ovarian cancer. These bloating situations are not related to anxiety and require immediate medical attention.
Can Bloating Due to Anxiety Be Cured?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective long-range pathway to overcoming anxiety disorders and therefore, stopping bloating. There are several alternative healthcare options, including homeopathic, naturopathic, meditation, movement therapy, dance therapy, art therapy, massage or acupuncture.Home remedies applying self-help routes include relaxation techniques. Trying any of these might include dedication to a hobby, listening to soothing music, self-hypnosis or meditation.
Having your gut stick out due to bloating is not fun, but it is not dangerous. However, living with enough anxiety to cause bloating and not getting appropriate treatment is not wise as self-sustainability is likely to decline. Anxiety causes various symptoms. Those symptoms may accelerate without treatment to the point that normal relationships in a domestic or work environment are impossible. Many victims turn to drugs or alcohol if they do not get treatment. Self-medication an alternative used to numb the pain, depression, isolation, or other negative effects of living with high levels of anxiety. Finally, anxiety often causes a multitude of symptoms that make normal day-to-day living nearly impossible for the victim and typically affects bystanders in the process.
- de Kort, Sander; Kruimel, Joanna W.; Sels, Jean P.; Arts, Ilja C.W.; Schaper, Nicolaas C.; Masclee, Ad A.M., 2012. Gastrointestinal symptoms in diabetes mellitus, and their relation to anxiety and depression. Diabetes Research & Clinical Practice. May2012, Vol. 96 Issue 2, p248-255.
- London, Cathleen. Tired of the Monthly Bloating and Irritability? Total Health. Nov2005, Vol. 27 Issue 5, p20-20.
- Harvard, 2010. Stress and the sensitive gut. Harvard Mental Health Letter. Aug2010, Vol. 27 Issue 2, p6-6.