Anxiety Community
How Specifically Does Anxiety Affect Stomach?
About This Community:

This patient support community is for discussions relating to generalized anxiety, anxiety and eating, anxiety and sleeping, mood swings, panic attacks and panic disorders.

Font Size:
A
A
A
Background:
Blank
Blank
Blank
Blank Blank

How Specifically Does Anxiety Affect Stomach?

Hi, I'm struggling through some fairly severe ongoing stomach issues that are initially triggered by a fairly specific, intense anxious event. Initially, I awaken with heart racing and/or a 'flushing' feeling around my heart, then it goes straight to my stomach where it immediately feels like a burning sensation, then severe pain and nausea.

Unfortunately, even after the anxious event/thoughts are removed, the stomach issues continue on for some time. This latest episode has lasted over 2 months. The last episode I had was in 2002 and lasted over 6 months.

When I'm not going through an 'episode', typical anxieties/fears may creep up on me, but none cause any sort of ongoing physical symptoms as these do. I don't suffer from panic attacks or most of the symptoms of general anxiety disorder.

- So to help me diagnose what is happening with my stomach, I'm curious to know exactly what is happening to the stomach during an extreme episode of anxiety?

- Some process is causing my stomach to become severely inflamed. Is there a scientific explanation?

- Anyone have severe, ongoing stomach issues resulting from an initial bout with anxiety?

Thanks. I understand a bit about adrenalin and how it affects the heart in this situation, but topics about stomach always seem more vague.
Related Discussions
37 Comments Post a Comment
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
my stomach is effected by my anxiety.  I get anxiety induced nausea.  I just know there are a ton of receptors in the stomach and it's not uncommon for people like us to have stomach issues.  I get the burning and nausea all the time.  
It's becoming old and I've had it now for over 2 years.  When it gets real bad,  I take a compazine to block that dopamine receptor - and the nausea goes away and I have two good days in a row.
I don't know what to tell you since I have the same problem.  Just that you're not alone.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I have had ongoing stomach issues since all my anxiety started. I don't eat and have lost alot of weight. All this causes more anxiety. I have had an upper GI normal, a ultrasound of my gallbladder and liver all normal. I now am waiting to have the camera swallowing test on the 18 th of this month. I am so tired of all this, I can never eat normal without upseting my stomach. When I do try to eat then I feel too full. It just seems that when the anxiety flares then the appitite goes. So you are not alone. Sometimes I feel like I just constantly have the flu.
Blank
358304_tn?1409713092
Hey Kenny. My anxiety seems to set in my stomach. I get a NERVOUS stomach, bad butterflies, the feeling of fear, for no reason... and it def. has it's side effects... no appetite... which leads to bloating... and upset nauseated stomach...

If you have no appetite for days... just keep hydrated, eat as much protein as you can... things that are easy to go down even if they don't sound good, your body needs nutrients... and when you are having anxiety, your body burns nutrients fast!

Drink those ensure protein drinks too! And fruit always seems to go down good... and p & j sandwiches for me. =)

Good luck.

Have you talked to your Dr. about your symptoms?
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for the replies. So still trying to understand technically what's happening, but this is a good start.

- So does anyone have ongoing stomach issues even after the anxiety (thoughts/feelings) is gone?

My current episode has been going on for over 2 months now, with not much progress. And while I know that in this state I am hyper-sensitive to anxious feelings that otherwise would be no big deal, I also know that there are definitely stretches where I'm definitely not experiencing anxiety during these episodes.

And for the one taking compazine, can that be short-term just to allow your stomach to 'heal', or return to normal?

Thanks again!
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I also suffer from ongoing nausea which started 20 months ago after a panic attack at work, i have been since been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
I feel nauseous every day even when i don't feel anxious, i have had many tests all of which have come back as normal except for Testosterone which was low.
One of the tests i had done was a 24 hr urine collection to see how much Adrenaline i was producing but this also came back as normal.
Have you ever been on anxiety meds? it is quite normal for a Psychiatrist to put you on a 1 or 2 week trial of valium to see if this alleviates your symptoms.  
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
And for the one taking compazine, can that be short-term just to allow your stomach to 'heal', or return to normal?

      IT can be short term or long term.  I've been taking it off and on for just over 2 years.  I don't go anywhere without it.  Vacations etc....  What it does is block the dopamine receptor which tells your brain that your stomach is not nauseous.
There's another drug called, phenegren which  is supposed to do the same thing but if you research the two drugs,  compazine has been proven to work much better for nausea.
My stomach pretty much always gets or feels better when anxiety symptoms are gone.  I would say if compazine doesn't help  your stomach,  I'd see a doc to see if there is something physically going on because your stomach should subside and feel better once the anxiety is gone or the dopamine receptor is blocked.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for the replies.

I'd really like to try to figure out how to stop the physical effects that the anxiety is causing my stomach, rather than just stopping my self from feeling it. Something about the initial anxiety event is causing my stomach to get totally enflamed/irritated, to the point that it takes months to heal and go back to normal.

I really wish I could discover what the anxiety is causing my stomach to do (ie - does it totally ramp up and overflow the acid production, does it cause muscle contractions, does it cause an increase or decrease in blood flow to the stomach, does it cause digestion to stop, etc.). So far it has been a bit elusive to get the complete scientific explanation of what goes on physiologically to the stomach during anxiety.

Blank
Avatar_f_tn
you have asked a very good question. i suffer with stomach problems alot, i'm going through it right now. have you been checked for ulcers yet? i've been treated for them twice. i think most of us with anxiety have stomach problems. i hope we get more posts here explaining what exactly is going on, and why it lasts for days or months at a time. rema
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I've been checked for ulcers a couple times in the past, but tests always come back negative. I think I've been told last time that my stomach is 'enflamed' or I have Gastritis.

But something is triggering this, I don't struggle with it randomly - only after a very severely anxious situation.

I'll keep digging...
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
from your symptoms i would say yes, you may have one of those problems. but you did say that this happens after a severely anxious situation. that's when it usually hits me too. have you tried nexium, zantac or pepcid ac ? i take pepcid ac and it gives me some relief. i hope you feel better. remar
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Hmmm, so suggesting taking acid blockers would suggest an over-abundance of acid that is irritating the stomach lining. Does anyone know if this is verifyably true?

The only thing I've read so far, is that blood is diverted away from the stomach, therefore slowing digestion. But how exactly this irritates the stomach, or if there is actually something more going on, is yet to be found by me.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
is your stomach feeling any better. mine is better right now thank goodness. i too would like to know what is going on. i told you i take pepcid ac and it helps somewhat but not completely. i recommended nexium or prilosec earlier but just read an artile on those 2 meds saying they were not good to take but pepcid ac was because it's different. you can't believe everything you read so you should check it out if you want to take either of these meds. that does make some sense about blood being diverted away from the stomach, that's why we get tingling arms and legs wtih a panic attack right? we need more info on this. remar
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
When I get anxiety I lose my apetite for the most part and I have to make myself eat because I know I have to.  If I am having a really bad anxiety day then I get really nauseous and some of the time I vomit.  Usually this happens when there is some event going on that I am anxious about.  On those days I really can't eat anything unless I want to see it again.  I tried taking an antiacid but that did absolutely nothing.  It totally *****, but you're not alone.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
What is causing your stomach issues no clue. But your heart racing with your stomach issues may not be anxiety. When you can't digest your heart can pump harder to drive more oxygen and blood to that muscle area to help push it through.

Some things to try. Try cooling down with cold wet towels while standing up right. Ice if needed. Just to cool your body temp, doesn't matter how you cool down. When my stomach is blocked and can't digest food this happens to me. Down right scary. Once I start to over heat I can't slow down my heart. I also take gas medication (gas-x) with water. It takes about 20 minutes to help me. My problem is not anxiety related.

But if cooling your body down while in a full up right position helps, can't hurt to try. I found that most of the time when ever I start to get hot or my heart starts to beat faster I know acid reflux, nausea and gas are building up. I take a gas-x before it gets to the over heated and super fast heart beat stage.

Don't know if this is your problem, but if it helps please message me to know that it worked. I will share more about it. If it doesn't work, then probably something very different than what I have. Hope you feel better, all of you.

Also anyone with long term stomach issues where your gastro says your fine, look into blood and intradermal food allergy testing. Both! Good luck.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for the replies! My heart racing issue doesn't seem to have anything to do with overheating to me. It usually happens in the morning, sometimes waking me up (which REALLY bums me out). Of course I feel it when I know I'm anxious about something, but at times it happens when I'm not thinking about anything (again, sometimes waking me from sound sleep).

I really am not sure if I'm having trouble actually 'digesting' my food or not. I just think my stomach is inflamed or irritated. Just trying to figure out what aspect of anxiety causing the stomach inflammation.

I am scheduled to go to a Naturapathic doc on Tuesday who will do a food sensitivity test, and a neurotransmitter test. Hopefully that will help point me in the right direction.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
You might get tested for h pylori, it's a bacterial infection that gets in the stomach and can cause lots of digestive issues.  Also been known to casue anxiety itself cause your not getting all your nutrients.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Wow, it's nice to see I am not the only one sufferin from this. The pain all started two years ago after an anxious moment in my life. I met the lead gastroenterologist at the children's hospital (i was 17 at that time) and we tested for H Pilory, Ulcers, acid reflux, i did a baryum swallow test and i was restricted from eating any fatty or spicy foods. Everything was negative, her and my pediatrician could not find what was causing my stomach pain. I'd wake up with unbearable stomach pain and feelings of nausea. I couldn't eat anything in the morning although i knew i was sooo hungry, the sight of food disgusted me. This went on for 3-5 months and during that time i was taking Lansoprazole. It worked in the end but took about a month to take effect. The following year the same thing happened but on a smaller scale and shorter time. About a year later, I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and mild depression. It's only until recently when I felt my anxiety acting up and stomach pain coming back did I realize they were correlated and the only cause must've been psychologically induced (by my anxiety). As im going through a tough time now, im VERY anxious, my stomach is killing me. But I do not want to rely on meds, especially not for my anxiety. I could tolerate some for the stomach pain, but I feel that if I control my anxiety, I wouldn't have any pain, and wouldn't have to take any medication whatsoever. Does anyone have any solutions, what do you do to reduce/control your anxiety (and stomach pain).

Oh and on the side I rely on Gaviscon to relieve my temporary pain.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Kenny11,I have had anxiety since i  was 17 im 49 now and its worse.Sometimes its so bad i dont get off the couch for days or weeks.For some reason at 1 or2 in the afternoon it goes away.But then i have no energy.I tell my girlfriend all the time this is no way to live.The only thing i have found that works is xanax.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Mscba, I am diagnosed the same. I just graduated high school, and I feel the same way about pretty much everything in your post. Do you also have trouble leaving the house, or a "safe haven"? Being anxious directly affects my stomach, and I have to have a bathroom nearby, or my anxiety peaks, no panic attacks from that so far, but who knows about the future. I've pretty much given up trying, because of a lack of close friends, following my anxiety episode. Trying seems too hard now, and I can only think of asking someone else with what seems to be the same condition as me.

Do you think getting a job would help me get past some anxiety-related feelings? Last time I worked there, apparently I was lazy, and the thought of screwing up scares me, so I've just been living with my parents the whole summer, doing nothing, and going nocturnal (I'm not sure if that's a common side effect or something)... It's driving me crazy, with even suicidal thoughts.. I just need some answers before I try.

As for pills, everyone I've talked to say that they can help, and once we take them for a while, we can go off them slowly and, at the same time, gain more control over our anxious thoughts and feelings. I've tried an anti-anxiety pill, and even an antidiarrhearal pill, but nothing seems to have results..
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Yes, I have had a Nervouse stomach for over two decades. it is with me every waking moment of every day, and even creeps into my dreams. I have been seeing a theapist for 12 years. and so nothing has helped, leading me to question if it is anxiety or not. Unfortunatly, the only thing that has worked are percocet, and I know thats not a viable option. I hope you find something that works without the dangerous side effects, sorry I can't offer any suggestions. I'm checking out this site for answers also.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I got this q while back all of a suddenly I get really hot and my face gets red and heart beat fast my stomach starts hurting like if inhave to go it get to the point I have to so everythingg stop i feel like i am having a heartattack  gi dr say I have acid reflux and take meds    I thought I was having anxiety attacks  going to try what ubsaid
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Hello fellow people I want to tell all you about all my stomach issues I have. I'm only 15 years old I have gone through a colonoscopy an endoscopy 4 times and been through a gallbladder ultra sound and a hita scan, I also have been through a X-ray many times and just like a month ago I had exploratory surgery and they removed my appendix. I am still having a lot of stomach and side pain. I had a cat scan done many trips to ER and over night trips at hospital. I also had a MRI done and they still can't find what wrong with me. That's my story of my issues I have.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
i too suffer with chronic anxiety which causes a constant churning swollen stomach, blood rush to head, racing heart, prickly hot face, sweaty palms, feeling dizzy etc. it's horrible. i have tried propanolol and it doesn't work. it's the constant fear of death. and now i have plans to move to wales its getting worse. i have been to the doctors 6 times in a month had blood tests, had my stomach prodded, had ecg and all fine. he has referred me to hospital to clear my mind but i don''t think that will even help. i do not exaggerate when i say i would rather have a leg missing than all this mind worry!!!!!!!!!!! :(
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I feel for you x
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
From: Boulder    Mar 29, 2013
To:  Everyone (especially Lindsey23)

Anxiety in the Stomach:  I was born in 1934.  By 1939 to 1943, I had had several operations for osteomyelitis in my left knee.  Penicillin had just been discovered and it saved my life.  However, at this early age, the trauma of the surgeries and the administration of the antibiotics had so hard-wired my brain response mechanisms and my stomach milieu that I had bleeding ulcers at the age of 22.  At the age of 24, I was receiving blood transfusions to save my life.  That was when I realized that the issue of anxiety and stomach pain is a fight for survival.  I resolved to not only survive, but to be successful in the process.  As Clint Eastwood said, “A man (or woman) has got to know his limitations.”  Knowing those limitations, I learned, with the care of a first-class internal medicine physician, how to pace myself and how to limit those stress-producing events that cause me such distress.  After forty years of university teaching and research, I retired some 16 years ago.  During a significant part of this period, I took the medications that became available (Tagamet, Zantac, Nexium, and now Prilosec.)  It has only been recently that I learned of the existence of the hard-wired extreme anxiety syndrome and associated panic attacks (which centered in the middle of my gut.)  Now, I take Xanax to block the anxiety, Celexa to block the panic attacks, and Prilosec to control the acid reflux.  The hard-wired responses are not curable, but by recognizing the downward spiral of the anxiety and the damage inflicted on my stomach, I can control my diet and allow my stomach to begin to heal.  Sleep is essential for the healing process to take place.  This has been a seven-day cycle for sixty years.  But I am still productive in my research and plan to be productive for years to come.  If anyone is interested in my additional symptoms and what my coping mechanisms are, please ask.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Hello, I'm 28 years old and I've been suffering with Gerd/heartburn/acid reflux for 2 months now after I've had an anxious period in my life with lots of stress/fears/fear of death. I'm trying to get over this with lifestyle changes and less stress but I'm desperate to find the root of all this..Do you think that my anxiety had caused the reflux? The thing is that I hurt at times when I feel relaxed..Maybe it's stress and anxiety built up in my system? Thanks!
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I am completely in this with you.. Mine started in February. I had a break of some sort and my normal world became this horrific nightmare of fear, worry and impending doom. doctor immediately put me on protonix because of the digestive issues associated with impending doom. the side effects made me feel worse than i did originally( remember, i am crazy now so i naturally get all side affects). BIG MISTAKE!!. i stopped the protonix 5 days ago and now i have a slight burning sensation in my stomach.. hopefully this is as bad as the burning gets .. I definitely wish you well with this socially caused mental affliction..
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I just stumbled upon this post. I suffer from this upset/anxious stomach too & it's horrible. Last year I went nearly 2 months with it after I experienced an event that caused me severe anxiety. My stomach feels nervous, I have no appetite, bowels are affected,and generally feel crapy. I just went through something last week that caused me significant anxiety & it's back after over about a year relief from it. Along with it, I feel antsy & nervous in general, it *****! I wish I had some scientific explanation for it too. Last time it happened, I was convinced there was something seriously wrong with me. I went to the ER twice & all but drive my doctor crazy. I think she'd prescribed me every anti-nausea medication & nerve calming drug available. Nothing worked, I just wanted to sleep & shut myself away from everyone. It's now upon me again & I have no time or desire to deal with this again. Last time I lost about 10 pounds due to it. Ugh!
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
OMG this sounds so similar to what happens to me.  The problems are always much more noticeable in the fall and winter.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Doctors are made to think your crazy they get money everytime they perscribe you something if they can't find an answer your crazy , I was sick vommiting for 6 months in and out of the hospital stomach felt like I swallowed battery acid cant function think I thought I was going crazy ! So was doing a bunch of research an learned about h pylori , so I asked a doc to check for it and it came back positive ! I wasn't crazy gatritis is a symptom not an illness soo if you have stomach problems before the anxiety there's something going on physically not mentally soo stick too your guns don't listen to these docs all they wanted to do was put me on depressants anxiety pills so on .. Sad the world we live in today
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
hi,ive had your symptoms for so many years now ,mine will start with my heart like skipping a beat and then surges into extreme palpitation and after i struglle to relax myself and the palpitation subsides the pain in my stomach will be unbearable ill have cold sweat and another bout with anxiety until all my strenght is drained and when i fall asleep for just a moment the pain goes away and after all the check up with heart specialist coming back negative i focused on the pyschological side of it and struggled to solve the riddle of my trigger and after all the councilors and seminars finally i faced my trigger and solved it and it becomes clearer and everytime it comes it becomes easier to get by and now my trigger and my symptoms went for a vacation for 2 years , until yesterday when i took pills that would block fats from being absorbed but the side effect would be like having diahrea or stomach pain at first i know that its only the side effect but when it didnt go away fro 12 hours i started to be irritated then worried and in the end having that part of my syptoms (symptoms) haunt me again, like you im also wondering whats happening to my stomach when anxiety hits me and if any specialist is reading this correct me if i say that its like clenching a muscle in your stomach for a long time and having it cramp on you just like when you swim you cant do anything about it at that time but when you let go and believe that it will go away soon it will happen.
    hope this helps because when my first episode happened im in grade 6 and now i have 3 beautiful kids my eldest is 22 and my yougest is turning 18, you have all my prayers with you including all that posted here, there is always hope dont give up on your research to find out what really is the scientific explanation for our symptoms




Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I am struggling with a very severe stomach burning pain that is constant.  I just recently went through a bout of severe anxiety and now my stomach is all messed up.  Seems like that is when it happens.  Am trying to self de-stress but don't want this burning to go on for to long.  Do you do anything to relieve your stomach between times for it to heal?
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I was I'll for years with stomach issues. When for the 3rd time in one night. My mother refused to take me home from the er! It ended up a month in the hospital.  12 inches of my intestine, appendix. Removed! Crones disease!  Now older every time I get upset my body aches! Fibrobialgia. So your feelings/rmotions Do contribute so much to your body!
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
This was over 20 year's ago. But I deal with crones daily, my anxiety level increases. Then my stomach reacts almost immediately!
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
First, if it's constant burning, you might want to see a doctor.  You don't necessarily want to do what docs tell you to for treatment, but you do want a diagnosis.  It could be an ulcer, it could be anxiety, but how can we tell?  As for me, for treatment of most stomach problems I find medication is just not very good for long-term treatment, as it causes rebound acidity.  So I treat my problems with natural remedies such as aloe vera juice and DGL, for example, which coat the stomach and help repair the mucosal lining.  But you do want to know what you're dealing with.  Not everything is caused by anxiety, and as to the above post, I don't believe crohn's disease is necessarily caused by anxiety it may be bacterial in nature or a result of forcing wheat and dairy into one's body when they aren't tolerated or the overuse of antibiotics killing off beneficial digestive bacteria.  Again, anxiety isn't responsible for everything.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I appreciate your information. I have an ache in my gut like I did 100 sit ups and it is anxiety. I took celexa for years and all of a sudden 3 months prior my body started rejecting my medications like celexa, nefazone, imprimine, no matter what anti-depressant I tried I had devastating side effects. So now Iam down to ativan and xanex and I fear I will get addicted. I have no other choice after 61 years of being alive I still have anxiety and panic  and a terrible pain in my gut.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I have a few tips which have helped me to overcome anxiety and panic. Breathing in for 3, hold for 3 and exhale for 5, saying 1 2 3 4 5 relax, this helps regulate breathing, really does help. Also chewing minty gum, the taste seems to help settle stomach and is a distraction if having negative thoughts,  also splash face with cold water, if this not possible cold water across eye brows seems to freshen face and again a distraction.  Try to accept if you are having anxiety attack, breathe steadily and feelings will stop, imagine nice thought s, places, visualization of feeling happy. Really does work. Ive had years on and off feeling anxious but these tips do work, worth a try.
Blank
Post a Comment
To
Recent Activity
Avatar_f_tn
Blank
IndigoIris commented on Tramadol & Ultram...
4 hrs ago
Avatar_m_tn
Blank
blockhead123 commented on Tramadol & Ultram...
4 hrs ago
Avatar_m_tn
Blank
Paxiled commented on Important Factors Typ...
8 hrs ago
MedHelp Health Answers
Blank
Anxiety Tracker
Track Anxiety Symptoms
Start Tracking Now
Top Anxiety Answerers
Avatar_m_tn
Blank
Paxiled
Arlington, VA
Avatar_m_tn
Blank
anxiety860
Avatar_m_tn
Blank
ThePinkFloyd
Avatar_f_tn
Blank
remar
st. louis, MO
Avatar_m_tn
Blank
cj29
GA
480448_tn?1403547723
Blank
nursegirl6572
PA
Anxiety Community Resources
RSS Expert Activity
469720_tn?1388149949
Blank
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm-treatable... Blank
Oct 04 by Lee Kirksey, MDBlank
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
The 3 Essentials to Ending Emotiona...
Sep 18 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
Control Emotional Eating with this ...
Sep 04 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
Top Anxiety Answerers
Avatar_m_tn
Blank
Paxiled
Arlington, VA
Avatar_m_tn
Blank
anxiety860
Avatar_m_tn
Blank
ThePinkFloyd
Avatar_f_tn
Blank
remar
st. louis, MO
Avatar_m_tn
Blank
cj29
GA
480448_tn?1403547723
Blank
nursegirl6572
PA