IBS & Stress

Submitted by Thiruvelan on Sat, 09/19/2015
Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Stress

Researchers are strongly believe that stress by itself does not cause IBS. However, it can worsen IBS symptoms. Stress and worry combination can put you into a vicious cycle 

Does stress causes/worsen IBS.

Stress has been strongly implicate in the development of IBS. The problem seems to lie in the improper interaction between the nervous system and gastro-intestinal tract. 

Stress is a major trigger for IBS; holding tension in the guts causes muscle cramping and escalate IBS attacks. Experts do not like to say IBS caused by stress. However, stress can cause increased IBS symptoms in someone with IBS and even worsen other conditions you have.

Does the anxiety come first, and then the IBS?

On the other hand, does the stress of having IBS cause the anxiety and depression? Research shows anxiety and depression do not cause IBS, it only trigger symptoms in IBS patients. 

IBS stressors classification

  • Physical stressors are climatic variations (heavy wind, heat, cold, and humidity), noise, electromagnetic radiation, and ionizing radiation (radioactivity from x-rays, atomic explosions, reactor accidents, reactor leaks, food irradiation, and radon gas).
  • Biological stressors are bacteria, viruses, fungi (molds), parasites, dust, and pollens from trees, grasses, & weeds.
  • Psychological stressors are alcoholism, love failure, sexual abuse, family disruption, prolonged sickness, loved once death, financial loss, and so on. 
  • Chemical stressors can worsen IBS symptoms and even worsen your digestive disturbance. Chemical stressors from organic substances are formaldehyde, phenol, benzene, toluene, and xylene. Chemical stressors from organic chlorinated compounds are organochlorides, pesticides, chloroform, pentachlorophenols, polychlorinated biphenols (PCB), and various herbicides. Chemical stressors from inorganic substances are mercury, lead, cadmium, aluminum, asbestos, chlorine, nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, copper, nickel, illegal drugs, tobacco smoke, medications, and others.

IBS specific stress

People with IBS often become sick, when out of house for several hours without easy access to bathroom. That is why, IBS patient experiences more symptoms when they are outside than stayed at home, because mind and gut connection is stronger than we know. 

9 stress busting tips

  • Breathe slowly and deeply: Before reacting to the stressful situation, take few deep breaths and release them slowly, this help relieve stress and help you react positively for this stressful situation.
  • Try speaking slowly: Stressed people tend to speak fast and breathlessly; however, slowing down your speech will lessen anxiety and provide more in control of the situation. This help avoid awkward situation by stopping you to speak harsh words.
  • Avoid unhealthy habits: Do not rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine to cope with stressful event. Men more likely to do this than women, this is avoidance behavior. In long run, these avoidance behaviors instead of solving your problems, it just create newer ones. It just provides temporary relief and not make the problems disappear.
  • Accept things that you cannot change: In case, if there is a difficult situation that you cannot have any control; recognize and learn accepting it as it is.
  • Humming tune: Play your favorite music and spend few minutes to hum along with it can help relieve stress for a while. 
  • Blow a balloon: Blowing up a balloon is consider providing stress relief. Blowing balloon makes you use your diaphragm to breathe deeper and more slowly. This activates parasympathetic nervous system to reduce the heart rate and relaxes muscles.
  • Warm bath: A warm bath after a daylong stress gives your mind and body a relaxation.
  • Laugh: The current research found that the anticipation of laughter reduced the levels of three stress hormones. Cortisol (the stress hormone), epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and dopac, a dopamine catabolite (brain chemical which helps produce epinephrine), were reduced 39, 70 and 38 percent, respectively. Chronically released high stress hormone levels can weaken the immune system, irritation, and inflammation.
  • Yoga: Yoga puts your body in a state of deep rest and relaxation. Researchers now believe during relaxation; oxygen intake reduces, exhale more nitric oxide and psychological stress levels drop.