Stomach bloating: Having this mood disorder could make symptoms worse – what is it?

Bloating can be a miserable and an annoying experience when it occurs. The painful feeling can have a detrimental effect on one’s life. Often it is due to the wrong kinds of food or eating too quickly. However sometimes it is due to the way a person manages their stress and anxiety in their lives. There is a direct link between the microbiota and the stress hormone system.

Having a feeling of unease in your stomach due to anxiety can cause bloating in the belly.

This is due to the fact that anxiety and worry can upset the delicate balance of digestion.

In some people, stress and anxiety slows down digestion, causing bloating, pain and constipation.

Anxiety and Depression Association of American said: “People feel the effects of stress and anxiety in many ways and one common symptom is stomach bloating.

“Anxiety can worsen symptoms of abdominal cramps and pain and make you literally feel sick to your stomach.

“Millions suffer from gastrointestinal problems and not managing stress and anxiety levels could be the reason.”

Stress and anxiety changes the body, not just the mind. Intense stress or anxiety can trigger stomach discomfort, including bloating.

Stomach pain and bloating are more common in people who have stress as well as an underlying condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Doctor Ashton Harper, medical advisor for Bio-Kult said: “There’s evidence that the brain and the gut communicate with each other via numerous systems including neural, hormonal and immunological. These do not function independently.

“Because of this interconnected relationship, it means that if one system is ‘disturbed’ it will result in the other system being ‘disturbed’.

“In simplest terms, mental stress at work equals upset tummy.”

According to Doctor Ashton, feeling stressed and anxious may induce a variety of digestive discomfort. “Alteration in the contractility of the gut may cause cramps or pain and may influence stool habits, constipation due to reduced GI contractions may cause feelings of bloating.

“Additionally, bloating may occur without constipation and you could also experience increased heartburn as a result of your anxious feelings,” he added. 

Luckily, there are a few things one can do to help reduce their stress and anxiety levels on the gut. Doctor Ashton said: “The direct approach to reducing stress on the gut would be to identify the ‘stress trigger’ and try to remove it, or alter its impact from your daily life, where possible.

Some people may not realise that our mind and gut are linked

Emma Mills

For instance, you may get stressed by not being prepared for some activity at work so make sure that you allow plenty of time to adequately prepare and rehearse to prevent or reduce anxiety.”

Meditation and yoga has been proven to help significantly reduce levels of stress.

In a bid to bring some serenity into one’s lives and gut, mindfulness or ‘gutfulness’ techniques could help.

Meditation and mindfulness expert, Emma Mills said: “Some people may not realise that our mind and gut are linked. So with our busy, on-the-go lives, emotions we experience throughout the day, like stress, can affect our digestive system.

Stress can trigger IBS symptoms; however quick and simple mindfulness and meditation exercises can help to alleviate this. Try sitting with your eyes closed and scan through your body in an objective way.

“Start at the top of your head, and move down through each part of your body, paying special attention to your middle area. Sense all the intelligent processes that are naturally happening in your body.”

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