5 Things You Need to Know About Anxiety and Diarrhea

1. Is It Anxiety, Or Is It Physical?

Diarrhea is basically a condition in which the person suffering from it, usually displays a course of daily, frequent, watery or loose stools and bowel movements. Diarrhea can be cause from a wide variety of factors, physical or otherwise.
The most basic cause of diarrhea is the insufficient absorption of water in the large intestine. This typically occurs as a result of some triggering factors, such as medications, infection, inflammation, or some type of disease state such as Crohn’s disease.
Anxiety and stress can exert a powerful influence over normal physical dynamics of the body, such as blood pressure, dietary habits, or the formation of stomach ulcers. The intestinal tract is no exception.

2. Identifying The Stress.

Being able to rule out other, perhaps more physical, causes of the diarrhea is one giant step toward identifying those things that cause excessive stress or anxiety. Many people look at stress in two aspects; stress you can identify and stress that isn’t recognized. Typically, recognized stressors can be dealt with in a meaningful manner. It’s the unrecognized, un-identified stressors that frequently cause havoc to our bodies.

3. What Anxiety And Stress Does To Your Body.

When anxiety strikes, different systems within the body are activated. Heart rate increases, blood pressure becomes elevated and gastro-intestinal activity slows in preparation for the “fight or flight” response. Adrenalin rushes into the circulatory system. Blood supply is increased in and around the intestinal tract for increased absorption of nutrients, and decreased around the stomach. Senses become heightened; sight, hearing, smell, all in preparation for the fight or flight response. Numbness and tingling of the face and extremities often occur in an upward spiral of symptoms.

4. Treat The Cause As Well As The Symptoms.

While there are vast numbers of prescription as well as over-the-counter remedies for diarrhea, treatment of the symptoms alone may not be enough when anxiety and stress are the causes. In order to best treatment anxiety related diarrhea, the root cause of the anxiety must me established. Once the cause of the stress and anxiety is identified, meaningful attempts to cope with and/or eliminate it can be undertaken.

5. Treatment Options; Cause And Effect.

It is widely accepted that if you treat and eradicate the cause of an illness, it follows that the illness will, in turn, vanish. The same holds true of stress and factors causing anxiety. Until the cause(s) of anxiety and stress are rooted out, any treatments are merely a “band aid” approach.
There are tools with which to treat anxiety related diarrhea. First is the symptomatic approach, where the diarrhea itself is treated. This can be done with dietary changes, medicines, anti-inflammatory agents, and anti-diarrhea compounds such as Imodium. In cases where there is associated bowel irritation, anti-spasmodic medication may be needed.
When treating the mental and emotional aspects of anxiety, counseling and therapy are excellent options to undertake. This type of therapy and treatment can often be accompanied by the use of anti-anxiety medications, such as tranquilizers, and anti-psychotic agents. By bringing the emotional side of the anxiety under control, quality efforts to treat the cause can be initiated.

About this Author

Ken Chisholm’s expertise in nursing, healthcare, surgery and orthopedics spans well over 30 years. As an R.N. and Orthopedic Physician Assistant, he holds multiple board certifications in these areas. Ken has a passion for empowering people through education and information. He also writes for a Texas-based publisher that designs specialty study templates for medical and healthcare certifying examinations.