Can Stress Aggravate Gastrointestinal Symptoms?
There is a direct connection between your emotional state and your gastrointestinal tract. From feeling butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous to developing an ulcer from extreme, ongoing stress, your body physically manifests stress in a variety of ways. If you are experiencing severe gastrointestinal problems, you may need to make an appointment for testing. You should also analyze how the additional stressors in your life – whether working from home, having children schooling at home, or worry about illness – is impacting your health.
Signs of Stress
While everyone has moments of stress, continuous and ongoing stress can have a detrimental affect on your health. You may experience abdominal pain, heartburn, headaches, nausea, or a lack of appetite. Headaches, diarrhea, lack of libido, and a persistent upset stomach can also be a result of stress. While you may need an exam or endoscopy procedure in order to determine the exact nature of your gastrointestinal issues, stress can amplify or even cause the issues.
Managing Stress in Difficult Times
Learning to manage stress more effectively can relieve some of your gastrointestinal issues. We recommend the following stress-reducing activities:
- Meditate. Even 5 minutes a day spent in meditation has been proven to help reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, and improve health.
- Walking, especially in nature, is a natural stress reducer.
- Turn off your phone. During times of crisis it is important to take a break from the constant barrage of news and frightening headlines. It’s ok to take a break.
- Phone a friend. Reach out and talk to someone, whether it’s a friend or a mental health professional. It’s ok to ask for help or even just vent your stress to a friendly listener.
If you believe you may need an upper or lower GI endoscopy (EGD), the first step is to consult with a skilled NYC gastroenterologist. Gramercy Park Digestive Disease Center (GPDDC) is home to top board-certified gastroenterology physicians, with extensive experience in digestive disease diagnosis and treatment. Call (212) 979-3237 or use the form on this page to learn more about our GI services and treatments.