How Can Stress Impact Digestion and Lead to Stomach Pain?


Ever felt like a knot feeling in your stomach when you’re worried or stressed out? Or maybe those fluttery butterflies when you are nervous?

You are definitely not alone. Stress, worry, and anxiety are common culprits behind those stomach aches and other digestive disorders. Most of the time, it’s just a passing thing and nothing to be worried about. But, if stress and anxiety stick around for a long time, they can really start to mess with your digestive system and potentially lead to more serious, long-term stomach issues.

What makes stress lead affect digestion and stomach health?

Research has revealed a fascinating link between our brain and our digestive system, connected through the central nervous system. This connection known as the enteric nervous system, creates a direct line of communication between the brain and the gut. When we are stressed or anxious, this system can make normal digestive processes feel downright painful. If you are facing constant digestion issues, reach out to the gastro care hospital in Coimbatore to seek immediate treatment.

What is the connection between stomach and stress?

When we are dealing with anxiety and stress, our bodies release hormones and neurotransmitters that can throw things off balance. These chemicals can affect the gut motility, affecting how our intestines and stomach move waste through our system. Stress can also disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in our gut, leading to an upset stomach.

On top of that, people with chronic stress and anxiety often find themselves overeating or reaching for unhealthy foods.

Certain foods, especially those loaded with natural and artificial sugars, can be tough on our digestion and lead to stomach discomfort. Chronic stress and anxiety might also push people towards smoking, drinking alcohol, or consuming large amounts of caffeine all of which can lead to gastrointestinal issues.

What are the symptoms of serious stomach issues?

Sometimes there can be an underlying condition that is causing some serious stomach issues can include:

  • Blood in stool
  • Black colored stools

Although these symptoms are common, based on the underlying conditions it can cause several other symptoms as well.

How does stress lead to stomach pain?

Although your brain is primarily responsible for overall body control, your intestines have a highly developed nervous system of their own that is sometimes referred to as a “second brain.” The term “enteric nervous system” refers to this system.

The enteric nervous system, which has the largest concentration of nerve cells outside of the brain, is responsible for both producing and responding to the same stress hormones and neurotransmitters as our brains. It also controls gastrointestinal functions independently of the brain.

This system is what connects your gut to your brain. This connection enables your brain to monitor the digestive system and alter activity within your gut, even though these two systems work independently.

Therefore, when your brain is under stress, it can transmit that discomfort to your digestive system and cause symptoms related to the gut, such as bloating, cramping, or upset stomach. Additionally, stress can change your gut flora. Prolonged changes can affect your mood and vice versa because these bacteria can interfere with your ability to think and control your emotions.

What does stress-induced stomach pain feel like?

Everyone reacts to stress differently, and the resulting stomach discomfort can also vary amongst individuals.

The most common complaints from people experiencing stress- or anxiety-related stomach pain include knotting in the stomach, cramping, churning, bloating, indigestion, nausea, or diarrhea are often regarded as the stress indigestion symptoms.

In general, causes of stress can lead your gut to move more and secrete more fluid, which may give you the impression that your stomach is either abnormally active or blocked.

What are the tips to calm the stress that is causing stomach pain?

Practice mindfulness:

Your stress response, or “fight-or-flight” impulse, is the opposite of this relaxation response. Your brain notifies your gut that it is safe to return to normal functioning when you experience a relaxation response because your body no longer feels threatened by perceived danger. Relaxation response options include meditation, yoga, or even simple breathing exercises.

Counseling and therapy:

Acquiring effective coping and management skills through counseling or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the best ways to lessen the negative effects of stress on the body’s psychological and physiological systems.


Exercise benefits more than just your general health and wellbeing. Additionally, it relieves stress and stomach pain while having a preventative effect on illnesses linked to stress.


Because there is a two-way communication between your gut and brain, stress can affect what you eat and stress can affect what you eat.

When under pressure, who hasn’t reached for a large bowl of chips or a pint of ice cream? Ultra-processed foods, which are usually heavy in sugar and unhealthy fats and can upset your stomach when consumed in excess, are a common component of stress eating.

While occasional indulgences are OK, maintaining a balanced diet rich in different plant-based foods will help you prevent further gastrointestinal distress.

Important Takeaway:

Although your gut and brain are separate centers for important body processes, they are constantly in communication and have the power to affect one another. It’s likely that if one isn’t feeling well or performing at their best, the other isn’t either.

This implies that a variety of digestive distress, including stomach pain, can arise in your stomach as a result of acute or ongoing stress in your brain. Talk to a psychiatric doctor in Coimbatore if you are experiencing stress related issues.

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