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Can anxiety cause stomach problems?

In the United States, the practice of medicine is disjointed. Dermatologists deal with the skin, gastroenterologists deal with the stomach, and psychiatrists deal with the mind. Through specialization, doctors have been able to become educated on the details of their chosen field. But the reality of health is that it is holistic. What goes on inside our bodies profoundly affects our mental and emotional state. An unfortunately, though doctors know the details about research being done in their field, they often (but not always) lack intuition about what might be going on within the body as a whole. A stomach problem can bring on some strange emotions. The digestive system is nothing but a long tube that extends from the mouth to the anus. Swelling in the digestive system can impact the rest of the organs in the body in a negative way. An infection or other issues with the intestines of the stomach can cause a person to feel “uneasy” and anxious. Indeed, this feeling of anxiety can be chronic and may be caused by stomach problems, believe it or not. Many of the headaches that people experience are actually caused by stomach problems. Sometimes the headache may come on because blood vessels in the body are being compressed by the excess gas or feces in the digestive system. The compression of blood vessels in one area of the body can cause high blood pressure in the brain which can lead to headaches. Referred pain from the stomach or the liver can manifest in the shoulders as well. Everything within the body is connected to everything else. Diseases and disorders are rarely isolated to a particular “system” of the body the way we’ve been lead to believe. Consider the role of nutrition and digestion on the heart and cardiovascular system for example. Not eating right can lead to a variety of cardiac and vascular issues over time. It isn’t unusual for people with stomach problems to have anxiety. Stomach problems and anxiety go together very well in fact. It may take some introspection and careful journaling to discover which came first, the anxiety or the digestive problems, but once you figure that out, you can start to develop a treatment plan. Though there are probably some times when taking pharmaceuticals for anxiety or digestive upsets is warranted, but most of the time, it’s best to stay off of the drug treadmill. Changing your diet may be the easiest... read more

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