Diarrhea-it’s usually not a symptom you would associated with anxiety, is it? Unfortunately, many people suffer from it as a result of their anxiety, and they’re too embarrassed to tell anyone about it. Fear not, for this is a perfectly normal side effect of the extreme anxiety that many people suffer from in their daily lives.
First of all, diarrhea is basically loose stools, and it can be caused by a variety of factors. It’s important to consult with your doctors if you are suffering from this because there are so many disorders and viruses that can cause this problem. Rule them out before deciding that anxiety is the main cause.
When the human body becomes anxious, its “fight or flight” response is activated, sending out a surge of adrenaline from the adrenal glands. That can affect a wide variety of organs in the body, and the digestive system is no different. Stomach upset, nausea and diarrhea are often the result. In fact, some researchers have found a correlation between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and anxiety. They are not certain which disorder causes which, only that they tend to be co-morbid.
Fortunately, there are plenty of over-the-counter medications you can take to alleviate your diarrhea symptoms. This is a simple short-term solution, but if you truly want to eradicate this unpleasant affliction, you’re going to have to treat the source of the problem, your anxiety.
You could go to your doctor and have anti-anxiety medicine prescribed to you, but they come with a host of side effects. Some anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines can even be addictive. Benzodiazepines are usually only prescribed for short-term relief, but all too many people abuse them and end up addicted. This is not a path you want to go down, but thankfully, there are alternatives. Herbs such as kava, passionflower and Valerian root have all been shown to be effective against anxiety, however, make sure to consult a doctor if you are currently taking medicine because there are some drugs that they should not be mixed with.
In addition to herbal remedies, meditation and yoga can also help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety. Mindfulness meditation teaches you to focus on the here and now, the aspects of your environment and it puts you in touch with how your body feels. Yoga has also been shown to be effective in alleviating anxiety, as it affects GABA levels in the brain, the same GABA levels that traditional anti-anxiety medications target.
Finally, cognitive-behavioral therapy can be very helpful to those who suffer from anxiety. Be sure to find a therapist who regularly uses this type of therapy in his or her practice. A good cognitive-behavioral therapy will teach you who to find common distortions in your thinking, and show you how to combat them. By employing the above techniques, you’ll soon find relief from your diarrhea symptoms and your underlying anxiety.
Stress, Anxiety and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 20 October 2012. <www.webmd.com>