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What Is the Connection between Anxiety and Stomach Pain?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2016
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Anyone who has undergone a period of prolonged stress or deal with an anxiety disorder understands that there is a direct connection between anxiety and stomach pain. Since anxiety causes a disruption in the normal function of the nervous system, the impact of that disruption is manifested in many ways throughout the body. As it relates to abdominal pain, the overworked nerves can cause contractions in the stomach that result in pain that can be quite severe. When that abdominal pain is the direct result of anxiety, alleviating the stress on the nerves will often cause the pain to subside.

Experiencing anxiety and stomach pain at the same time is very common. People who have a fear of public speaking will often be quite nervous when facing a crowd, experiencing pain in the abdomen that is sometimes referred to as butterflies in the stomach. This condition denotes a sense of contractions taking place, similar to fluttering activity, that is bothersome at best and painful at worst. With this type of temporary emotional discomfort, the anxiety and stomach pain often subside as soon as the individual begins to relax during the presentation or when the public speaking assignment is completed.

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People who suffer with anxiety disorders and the often accompanying panic disorders often note that the severity of anxiety and stomach pain usually escalates to a higher level. For example, people with what is known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) often find themselves in a constantly heightened emotional state characterized by racing thoughts and abdominal pain that ranges from feeling like severe hunger to a series of painful contractions of the stomach muscles. Should that individual experience an panic attack, the pain is often magnified until the attack passes. Many anti-anxiety medications help to reduce the function of overworked nerves by attempting to balance the production of neurotransmitters by the brain or make more efficient use of the neurotransmitters that are produced. When successful, the medication can help to alleviate all the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, including the clenching of muscles and related pains in the abdomen.

While just about everyone will experience some sort of situational anxiety and accompanying pain in the abdomen and other areas of the body at one time or another, constant anxiety and stomach pain should be called to the attention of a qualified physician. A doctor can determine the underlying cause for the nervous condition and the symptom of abdominal pain, then make recommendations for medication, lifestyle changes, and therapy that will help reverse the situation. In many instances, patients will respond to a treatment or combination of treatments, making it possible to recover from the anxiety and be free of the stomach discomfort once more.

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anon980284
Post 3

It's due to an imbalance of serotonin (neurotransmitter which falls in anxiety/depression), which is one of the major neurotransmitters found in central nervous system and gut.

Ocelot60
Post 2

@heavanet- I deal with these issues too, and I also believe that diet does make a big difference for people who experience stomach discomfort during stressful times. I have found that eating yogurt at least once daily works wonders for me.

Heavanet
Post 1

I have dealt with anxiety-related stomach pain, and have found that altering my diet has worked for me. When I'm stressed out, I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and cut back on fat and sugar. Food that consists of lean protein such as fish and tofu products also seem to make my stomach feel calm when my life is hectic.

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