You’ve probably heard stress can create havoc on just about every part of your body and mind. Chronic stress can exacerbate many serious health problems:
- Mental health, depression, anxiety, and personality disorders.
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attack and stroke.
- Tension Headaches, tightness in the neck and jaw, and knots and spasms in your neck and shoulders. It may also contribute to TMJ, a jaw disorder
- Flare ups of arthritis, fibromyalgia
- Worsen skin conditions like eczema, rosacea
- Can lead to hives, itchiness, excessive sweating and hair loss
- Immune system which can cause you to have more colds, flu and can make autoimmune conditions such as lupus and inflammatory bowel disease worse.
Stress & Your Digestive System
We all talk about “gut feelings,” but few of us really appreciate the amazingly strong connections between the brain and the digestive system. The stomach and intestines actually have more nerve cells than the entire spinal cord, leading some experts to call the digestive system a “mini brain.” A highway of nerves runs directly from the real brain to the digestive system, and messages flow in two directions. Consider this: 95 percent of the body’s serotonin– a hormone that helps control mood– is found in the digestive system, not the brain.
Stress & IBS
Nobody knows how Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) gets its start, but there’s no doubt that stress can worsen symptoms. For one thing, stress can make the colon contract, leading to stomach pain. It’s not completely clear why people with IBS sometimes become constipated. One possibility is that stress can occasionally make the contractions uncoordinated and unproductive. Stress can also make the mind more aware of sensations in the colon, and since people with IBS may feel more discomfort due to extra-sensitive pain receptors in the gastrointestinal tract, even normal contractions can feel really unpleasant.
Other Digestive Issues Aggravated by Stress
Relief Can Be Found at Digestive Care Physicians
People with digestive problems often scoff at the idea that stress could be at the root of their problems. Stress is especially troubling for people who have digestive problems without any clear physical cause– “functional gastrointestinal disorders”. These disorders are extremely sensitive to stress. They’re also extremely common. If your digestive system isn’t running smoothly, don’t suffer in silence. The doctors at Digestive Care Physicians can run tests to see if your gastrointestinal problems are caused by a physical condition or if your mind may be having an impact of your stomach. Ask your doctor if you would be a good candidate for cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, relaxation therapy, or another form of counseling. You can do your part to battle stress by eating well, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep.
Digestive Care Physicians has 5 locations: Alpharetta, Cumming, Dawsonville, Johns Creek, and Lawrenceville, Georgia. Make an appointment today to begin getting the help you need 470-210-7766.