Can Anxiety Cause Diarrhea: The Physical Effects of Anxiety

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The answer to “Can anxiety cause diarrhea?” is simple if you’ve ever experienced an upset stomach with anxiety.

It’s one of the most common symptoms of nervousness and anxiety disorders since they can significantly affect your digestive system.

With helpful resources like Overthrowing Anxiety and professional mental health guidance, diarrhea will no longer be an issue.

Can Anxiety Affect Bowel Movements?

Have you ever encountered a stressful situation and immediately begun to experience abdominal discomfort?

If so, you’re not alone, as there are plenty of people who suffer from nervous diarrhea or anxiety-induced diarrhea.

Many sufferers also experience increased gassiness, vomiting, and general stomach discomfort, leading them to ask, “Can stress cause diarrhea?

A couple of factors influence the emergence of diarrhea with anxiety, one of which being hormones.

It’s important to note that although it can be challenging to live with, there are treatments to consider.

Apart from working on your mental health, many over-the-counter medicines can help curb the embarrassment of nervous diarrhea.

Why Does Anxiety Give Me Diarrhea?

Anxiety and diarrhea have a strong connection in regards to the hormone cortisol.

Hormone Response

When experiencing an anxiety attack or heightened nervousness, your mind begins to engage your flight or fight response.

In this instance, your body releases an exceptional cortisol amount, a hormone meant to regulate said response.

When you’re comfortable, your cortisol levels will remain normal, but your cortisol increases in stressful situations.

There are several physiological effects you can experience from increase hormone release, including:

  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Profuse sweating
  • Lack of concentration

After the stressful situation has passed and your hormone levels return to normal, you’ll experience a period of exhaustion.

You might be surprised to learn that this physiological response is innate and designated for our survival.

Like animals, our fight or flight response is engaged when faced with stimuli that we perceive to be threats.

It can also be useful for dealing with trauma, sadness, and anger.

Hormones and the Abdomen

Your hormones are released from an area of your brain known as the amygdala, which processes your intense emotions.

When your brain puts your body on alert, your nerves send fast signals to the rest of your body, which increases blood flow.

Increased blood flow is responsible for the quickened heart rate you will experience during an anxiety attack.

It can also result in diarrhea since blood will be prioritized to your other organs and away from your abdomen.

This process results in abdominal discomfort, often creating significant nausea and diarrhea.

Instead of continuing to operate normally, your digestive system will suspend itself to protect your other vital organs.

Anxiety and IBS

Aside from being a sign of anxiety, diarrhea can also result from an underlying medical condition known as IBS.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a functional disorder that also has a strong connection to diarrhea like stress.

With that said, IBS isn’t as simple as having diarrhea when you get stressed; it can cause significantly uncomfortable symptoms.

Individuals with IBS are likely to experience abdominal cramping, bloating, significant abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea.

IBS’s direct cause is hard to pinpoint, but environmental factors have been proven to correlate with the illness.

Anxiety, for example, can trigger an IBS episode and can lead to worsening symptoms over time.

The connection between your brain and gut is known as the gut-brain axis and is related to the Enteric Nervous System (ENS).

The complexity of the ENS is not to be understated, as it manages millions of digestive tract neurons responsible for digestion.

It also connects straight to the Central Nervous System (CNS) and is affected by brain processes.

In instances where individuals are dealing with anxiety-induced IBS, it means the ENS could be malfunctioning.

As the ENS regulates digestive motility, it leads to an urgency to use the washroom.

How Do I Stop Diarrhea From Anxiety?

Even though diarrhea can be challenging and sometimes impossible to stop, there are treatment options available.

Depending on the severity of your condition, you might find specific recommendations to be preferable.

Mental Health Assistance

First and foremost, the most critical thing to do when dealing with anxiety is to seek professional guidance.

Licensed psychologists and psychiatrists can assist you with your overwhelming anxieties healthily and productively.

Depending on the severity of your condition, they can also recommend medications to alleviate the disorder’s symptoms.

By managing your mental health, you can control anxiety-induced diarrhea and many other symptoms as well.

The concept of living without anxiety can seem like a distant dream to some, but it is entirely achievable with professional help.

A mental health professional’s primary objective is to find a treatment plan that adapts to your lifestyle.

Every patient is different, suffers from another type of anxiety, and requires a personalized treatment plan.

You might find that specific therapies or prescribed drugs can assist with managing your mental disorder.

Lifestyle Changes

There are several things you might do or consume daily that can trigger your diarrhea.

One of the main topics you’ll discuss in therapy is your lifestyle and specific things you should be avoiding.

Reduced Caffeine Intake

As delicious as it can be, caffeine can wreak havoc on your nervous system and your digestive system.

By increasing blood flow to the brain, caffeine can make you more excitable and susceptible to anxiety.

One of the top recommendations for those diagnosed with anxiety is avoiding coffee, espresso, and energy drinks.

Caffeine also reduces blood flow to your digestive tract, bringing on diarrhea with or without anxiety.

It’s often used as a laxative since it helps soften stools and keep your bowel movements regular.

If you’re already suffering from the frequent need to defecate, it’s best to avoid caffeine.

can anxiety cause diarrhea

Avoiding Certain Foods

Apart from caffeine, there are many other foods you might want to avoid, though the list changes from person to person.

If you know of any foods that are likely to upset your stomach, it’s best to stop eating them.

For example, spicy foods have been known to increase the likelihood of diarrhea and stomach upset.

Often, those suffering from anxiety notice a significant improvement in their symptoms with an adequate meal plan.

These meal plans will typically contain balanced daily ingredients such as lean protein, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

Complementary Health Practices

Along with prescribed treatments and therapy, complementary health practices can be beneficial.

Things such as yoga, insightful anxiety programs, and meditation can significantly reduce your likelihood of digestive upset.

Overthrowing Anxiety

It can often be beneficial to work through anxious feelings independently, as long as you have the right coping tools.

Overthrowing Anxiety is a useful resource for anyone suffering from anxiety, especially if you’re ready to take control.

With the invaluable tips and insights in the program, you can begin working towards your better self.

It can also be a phenomenal guide for preparing you to seek professional help to deal with your anxiety.

Since you will work through the steps independently, you can gain a more in-depth insight into your condition and bolster your confidence.


Yoga is beneficial because it’s a combination of physical and mental health.

You’ll be able to engage in a low-impact form of exercise, which can help you work off nervous energy.

Participants have also gained valuable coping mechanisms to assist with other physiological effects of stress.

By moving through your flow, you can significantly improve your focus and concentration.

You’ll also learn how to desensitize your brain to intrusive stimuli in your environment.


Meditation is like yoga in that it helps strengthen your mental abilities when dealing with stress and anxiety.

It is often a prescribed method of treatment by mental health professionals in combination with positive affirmations.

Meditation can be convenient since it can be done anywhere and improves mental focus and clarity.

By learning the appropriate breathing techniques, participants can lower their anxiety and stress.

Antidiarrheals and Antispasmodics

Two medications highly recommended are antidiarrheals and antispasmodics.

Antidiarrheals are typically available over-the-counter, although doctors can prescribe more substantial options.

Products such as Imodium, Tums, and Pepto Bismol can get rid of symptoms quickly and effortlessly.

Antispasmodics, on the other hand, are not available over-the-counter and must be prescribed.

Their primary objective is to reduce the frequency of intestine contractions, which can cause diarrhea.

With reduced spasms, stools cannot move through the intestine as quickly.

The two most popular antispasmodics are Levsin and Bentyl as an answer to, “Does stress causes diarrhea?

How Long Does Stress Diarrhea Last?

There are two types of diarrhea you might experience with anxiety: acute and chronic.

For most sufferers, acute is more likely and lasts substantially shorter than chronic concerns.

However, if you have severe diarrhea, acute episodes could frequently happen while chronic is ongoing.

You might be asking, “Can stress cause diarrhea?” if you’re experiencing chronic episodes, which can last for four or more weeks.

Alternatively, acute concerns will last one to two days, at most.

You might also find that acute diarrhea will happen multiple times weekly, such as when you have an anxiety attack.

When To See a Doctor

It would be best if you weren’t alarmed when you have diarrhea due to an anxiety attack or panic attack in most circumstances.

Seeking a doctor’s assistance should become necessary if the symptoms persist for two to four weeks without underlying conditions.

For example, if you begin to have diarrhea without an accompanying sense of stress or anxiousness.

It is also essential to seek medical assistance if you notice unexplained weight loss, extreme fatigue, or blood in your stools.

With a doctor’s visit, you will undergo a couple of tests to determine the cause of your upset stomach.

Can Anxiety Cause Diarrhea: Final Thoughts

After working through Overthrowing Anxiety and speaking to a mental health professional, diarrhea can be a past issue.

Finding the link between your anxiety and diarrhea can significantly improve your life quality and give you confidence.

If you’ve ever wondered, “Does stress causes diarrhea?” or “Can anxiety cause diarrhea?” the answer is yes, and it’s treatable.

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