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Can Anxiety Cause Diarrhea? The Link, Causes & Treatments

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Have you ever had stomach butterflies after coping with a difficult situation, for instance? Stress and anxiety may easily impact the stomach. Chemicals and hormones are out of balance when under stress. Keep reading to learn more about the connection between these two conditions.

Difference Between Anxiety and Depression – Can Anxiety Cause Diarrhea?

Anxiety and depression difference: The fact that one term denotes a single sickness while the other denotes a collection of ailments is a significant distinction between anxiety and depression.

In reality, depression is one illness. There are numerous distinct symptoms (see below). And different people may experience it very differently. However, the term “depression” only refers to one illness.

The word “anxiety” can indicate a number of different things. We all experience anxiety occasionally, and the word “anxiety” can be used to describe that feeling simply. However, when we use the word anxiety in a medical context, it actually refers to anxiety disorder.

Some less frequent conditions are included under anxiety. These include panic disorders and phobias. However, generalized anxiety disorder is the most prevalent (GAD). In the US, a generalized anxiety disorder may affect four to five out of every 100 persons. In this post, we’ll concentrate on generalized anxiety.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

According to The National Institute on Mental Health, periodic anxiety is a standard component of life. When faced with a challenge at work, before a test, or before making a crucial decision, you could experience anxiety. However, anxiety disorders involve more than just passing apprehension or terror.

Anxiety and depression difference: It’s critical to get anxiety treatment as soon as possible since, for someone with an anxiety condition, the anxiety does not go away and can worsen over time. The symptoms might affect daily tasks like work performance, academic progress, and interpersonal connections. Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders are only a few of the several types of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety and depression difference: People with a generalized Anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive Anxiety or worry, most days for at least 6 months, about many things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances. Fear and Anxiety can cause significant problems in areas of their life, such as social interactions, school, and work. 

What is Depression?

Depression (also known as Major Depressive Illness or Clinical Depression) is a common but significant mood disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It produces severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to function on a daily basis, including sleeping, eating, and working. The signs of depression must last for at least two weeks before a diagnosis may be made.

Depression treatment is required when depressive symptoms are chronic and do not go away since some types of depression are slightly different or may arise in unusual situations.

Types of Depression

  • Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia): is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major Depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years to be considered a persistent depressive disorder.
  • Psychotic Depression: occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.
  • Bipolar disorder: is different from Depression, but it is included in this list because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major Depression (called “Bipolar Depression”). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high – euphoric or irritable – moods called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.”
  • Postpartum Depression: is much more serious than the “baby blues” (relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms that typically clear within two weeks after delivery) that many women experience after giving birth. Women with postpartum Depression experience full-blown major Depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression). The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany postpartum depression may make it difficult for these new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or their babies.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: is characterized by the onset of Depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This Depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter Depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder.
  • SAD Seasonal Depression (Depressed SAD): A form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is triggered by the changing of the seasons; it starts and ends about at the same periods each year. If you have SAD like the majority of people do, your symptoms begin in the fall and last through the winter, draining your energy and making you cranky. Typically, these symptoms go away in the spring and summer. SAD less frequently results in depression in the spring or early summer and clears up in the fall or winter. SAD treatment options include medications, psychotherapy, and light therapy (phototherapy).

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Anxiety Fact Sheet

Anxiety Overview

A mental health condition marked by intense feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that interfere with daily activities. Panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are a few examples of anxiety disorders.
The inability to put aside worry, restlessness, and stress that is out of proportion to the severity of the incident are among the symptoms.
Counseling or medicine, including antidepressants, are used as forms of treatment.


Anxiety Symptoms

Behavioral: hypervigilance, irritability, or restlessness.

Cognitive: lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or unwanted thoughts.

Whole body: fatigue or sweating

Also common:  anxiety, excessive worry, angor animi, fear, insomnia, nausea, palpitations, or trembling

Anxiety Treatment

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aimed to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

Anxiety Statistics

It’s critical to understand the distinction between anxiety and depression. Anxiety, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worry, whereas depression, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness. It is conceivable for someone to experience depression and anxiety simultaneously.


6.8 million

GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health

19 million

19 million adults experience specific phobias, making it the most common anxiety disorder in America.  

Source: ADAA2020

17.3 million

Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults or about 7.1% of the U.S. population aged 18 and older.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health


Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.
Anxiety diarrhea: Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.

Does Anxiety Cause Diarrhea? Anxiety And Diarrhea

Can anxiety give you diarrhea: It is well-recognized that stressful life events, such as busy work periods, the death of a loved one, and marital problems, can cause physical symptoms in the body. The brain-gut axis, as it is often known, is the result of the close connection and shared nerves between the brain and the gut.

Can Diarrhea Cause Anxiety?

Diarrhea anxiety: Have you ever had stomach butterflies after coping with a difficult situation, for instance? Stress and anxiety may easily impact the stomach. Chemicals and hormones are out of balance when under stress.

This alteration to the body’s environment may disturb the gut flora, causing digestive problems.

Can Diarrhea Be Caused By Anxiety? Diarrhea From Anxiety

Is Diarrhea A Symptom Of Anxiety? One of the many bodily symptoms that anxiety can produce is diarrhea. When you have loose, watery bowel movements (often known as “poos”) and need to use the restroom more than three times per day, you are said to have diarrhea. Diarrhea can take several distinct forms and it’s typically:

  • Mild or temporary diarrhea usually goes away in a few days and may have been brought on by an infection.
  • Food poisoning, emotional stress, or food intolerance could all contribute to mild diarrhea.
  • Medical diseases that affect the gut, such as cancer, Crohn’s disease, colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome, can result in chronic or severe diarrhea.

Why Does Anxiety Cause Diarrhea? Does Anxiety Give You Diarrhea?

As a result, anxiety can affect both mild and chronic diarrhea. The causes of moderate diarrhea are life stresses that result in momentary worry.

Short-term diarrhea is more likely to occur as a result of this form of acute stress than it is to produce worry or, rarely, depression. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is more likely to be responsible for these mental alterations.

IBS is a common disorder of the large and small intestines that results in bloating, stomach pain, and either constipation, diarrhea, or a mix of the two. It can also cause both constipation and diarrhea. A doctor makes the diagnosis after conducting a number of other tests to rule out more serious explanations for the symptoms.

Can Anxiety Cause Nausea And Diarrhea? Can Anxiety Cause Diarrhea and Nausea?

Can anxiety cause diarrhea and vomiting? One of the most prevalent signs of stress and worry is stomach issues including nausea and diarrhea. Anxiety is a typical physical reaction to danger or threat. However, anxiety can become overwhelming and frequent for certain people.

Can Anxiety Cause Chills And Diarrhea?

The symptoms of anxiety as a medical illness include worry, fear, uneasiness, shortness of breath, difficulty sleeping, and other manifestations. Severe anxiety can have a variety of physical symptoms, including diarrhea, tremors, and a rapid heartbeat. These symptoms might be brought on by drug use, a mental or physical illness, or a combination of these factors.

Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Diarrhea? Diarrhea Every Morning Anxiety

There are several ways that stress can impact your digestive system. Over time, too much stress might hinder your gut’s ability to perform its normal functions, which can cause diarrhea. Treatment for diarrhea brought on by stress should address both the body and the psyche.

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Anxiety Causing Diarrhea: Gut Reactions to Stress

Your body’s built-in stress reaction is strongly linked to experiencing diarrhea when you’re stressed. The “fight-or-flight” reflex is what we refer to as this reaction.

An immediate reaction to stress is the fight-or-flight response. Your body is reacting to a perceived threat when you encounter this reaction. As a result of the sympathetic nervous system being activated, the body experiences a series of physical changes, including an increase in heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure, and a decrease in digestion.

The fight-or-flight response was very helpful in ensuring the survival of humans as a species, especially when they had to avoid dangers like lions that were hungry. But in the present era, when many of our stressors are chronic rather than acute, this similar reaction has grown more problematic.

Your body responds to perceived threats by going through a variety of physical changes, including digestive alterations. For instance, when your body is under stress, digestion slows down to free up resources for other bodily functions. The small intestine and gut slow down during this reaction, but the colon becomes more active. As a result, you may have gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, such as diarrhea.

How To Stop Anxiety Diarrhea?

It usually goes away on its own if you have a brief episode of diarrhea brought on by a single stressful incident, but you can try to treat the symptoms at home if necessary. How To Calm Anxiety Diarrhea? The following are suggestions for controlling a bout of diarrhea:

Diarrhea And Anxiety: Staying at home

Avoid in-person work or school and stay home as much as possible until the loose bowel movements resolve.

Anxiety Induced Diarrhea: Keeping hydrated 

Even if sickness makes this difficult, you should sip water slowly and aim to drink at least 1.5–2 liters, or 6–8 cups per day. 

Anxiety Causes Diarrhea: Avoid drinks that are high in sugar

These include sugary soft drinks, fruit juices, and cordials, which may prolong diarrhea.

Avoid gut stimulants like alcohol and caffeine, which may worsen diarrhea. Consume drinks called oral rehydration solutions. These contain electrolytes (salts), sugar to help electrolytes get absorbed, and water. Oral rehydration solutions are helpful to replace salts and water the body loses when you have diarrhea.

Eat small and frequent meals

Also, choose plain foods. These include rice crackers, white bread or bagels, noodles, bananas, apple sauce, peeled potatoes, cooked carrots or pumpkin, cooked eggs, yogurt, and chicken or fish.

Avoid foods high in fiber

Fiber is found in corn kernels, whole grains, nuts, lentils, chickpeas, seeds, and vegetables like broccoli, beans, and peas. Green leafy vegetables are sources of insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber bulks up stools and can make them pass through the intestine faster, increasing the risk of diarrhea. 

Be cautious about soluble fiber

Oats, barley, chia seeds, flaxseeds, psyllium, and some fruits contain soluble fiber. It takes up water into the intestine like a sponge. This kind of fiber can either aid to soften stools or lessen urgency, which can have a beneficial or negative impact on bowel motions.

To prevent other digestive problems like bloating or abdominal pain, increase intake gradually if you wish to use soluble fiber to treat diarrhea.

Avoid foods that are high in sorbitol and mannitol 

These sweeteners have a natural laxative effect and are best avoided during times of diarrhea. Sorbitol and mannitol can be found in sugar-free chocolate, gum, and mints.

Anxiety Diarrhea Medication: Imodium For Anxiety Diarrhea

Diarrhea itself can be stressful, particularly if you’re already feeling pressured. With one less thing to worry about, IMODIUM® products contain the active component loperamide, which helps your digestive system return to normal function.

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IBS And Anxiety: Can Anxiety Cause IBS?

An unsettled stomach is a common symptom of anxiety, but how can you tell whether it’s anything more serious, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), that’s causing it?

Unexpected physical manifestations of stress and anxiety might occur. When life feels overwhelming, stomach problems are frequent for many people.

Stress can also make you feel as though there is a big, uncomfortable rock sitting in your stomach, along with nausea and uneasiness.

However, it can be challenging to distinguish between an anxiety disorder and a medical illness like irritable bowel syndrome when you have both.

An unsettled stomach is a common symptom of anxiety, but how can you tell whether it's anything more serious, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), that's causing it?
Can IBS cause anxiety? Anxiety And IBS: An unsettled stomach is a common symptom of anxiety, but how can you tell whether it’s anything more serious, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), that’s causing it?

IBS & Anxiety: Does Anxiety Cause IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the clinical name given to a group of digestive symptoms that mainly affect your bowel movements.

Several classifications of the condition exist, including:

  • IBS-C: symptoms occurring mainly with constipation
  • IBS-D: symptoms occurring mainly with diarrhea
  • IBS-mixed: diarrhea and constipation are both regularly experienced

IBS is caused by underlying problems with the gut nerve system, unlike many other gastrointestinal illnesses, which often appear to cause apparent damage to your digestive tract.

The American College of Gastroenterology believes that 10% to 15% of American adults have IBS symptoms, but that only 5% to 7% of those people have a formal diagnosis.

Any age group can be impacted by IBS. The condition’s precise cause is not known. But IBS and other comparable ailments are categorized as diseases of gut-brain communication (DGBI).

IBS may also be caused by additional factors, such as:

  • Stressful situations
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Food sensitivity or intolerance
  • Imbalance of intestinal bacteria growth

IBS Caused By Anxiety Symptoms (IBS Anxiety)

When you have both IBS and anxiety, it can be challenging to determine which is the primary cause of your symptoms.

Anxiety symptoms include:

  • Persistent feelings of worry or apprehension
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Muscle tension
  • Fatigue
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Hypervigilance
  • Sweating
  • Increased or irregular heart rate
  • Trembling
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Rapid or shallow breathing

Anxiety IBS Symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive gas production
  • Bloating
  • Mucus in stool

IBS symptoms could come on without warning. This component of unpredictability might make you feel anxious about going to new places or being too far away from a restroom.

Both anxiety and IBS can cause digestive symptoms, and anxiety can be a side effect of IBS, especially if your symptoms come on without warning.

Nausea IBS Anxiety

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which affects 7 to 16 percent of Americans, and chronic upset stomach, which affects 12 percent of people, can both be brought on by anxiety.

IBS Anxiety Weight Loss

IBS and weight loss: Is it possible? IBS does not typically directly contribute to weight loss, in contrast to other gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease. However, if a person is on a limited diet to treat their symptoms or if they start to experience food anxiety, weight loss may happen.

Anxiety Induced IBS: How are IBS and Anxiety Connected?

IBS From Anxiety: Although they may exacerbate IBS symptoms, anxiety and anxiety disorders do not cause the condition. According to a 2021 study, IBS and several mental health issues, such as anxiety and mood disorders, may overlap genetic pathways. According to a 2014 review, IBS and anxiety both appear to undergo the same structural brain changes that could result from major life stress.

This doesn’t necessarily imply that one condition leads to another. Instead, it suggests that if you’re predisposed to getting a disorder like anxiety, you might also be more likely to develop IBS. It is also conceivable for the situation to be reversed; if you are susceptible to IBS, you may also be more likely to acquire an anxiety problem.

People who struggle with anxiety and depression frequently experience IBS. In fact, a 2021 literature analysis discovered that IBS diagnoses were more common in persons who were depressed or anxious. However, anxiety and IBS can occur without you having a mood problem.

How To Deal With IBS Anxiety?

How To Calm IBS Anxiety? IBS and anxiety have a complicated relationship, so you may need to use management techniques for both problems. You might be able to reduce your anxiety while also treating your IBS symptoms if you work with a mental health specialist as well as a medical practitioner.

Cognitive behavioral therapy could be helpful for both IBS and anxiety (CBT). You will gain awareness of false ideas that could be causing unfavorable feelings and exacerbating IBS symptoms as you go through this process.

Another sort of hypnosis that a medical provider might advise is gut-directed hypnotherapy. Hypnosis uses visualization techniques, suggestive imagery, and metaphors to help you focus on something other than your gut feelings and relax your digestive system. Hypnotherapy is a successful strategy for the long-term management of IBS symptoms, according to a review from 2020.

There are techniques you can use on your own to assist prevent anxiety while you advance in the therapy setting, such as:

  • Limiting alcohol and caffeine
  • Eating regular, balanced meals
  • Exercising
  • Using focused breathing techniques
  • Practicing yoga, meditation, mindfulness, or other relaxation methods
  • Treating yourself to a massage or other self-care activity
  • Seeking humor when you feel anxious
  • Reminding yourself that you’re human, and it’s OK to be imperfect
  • Journaling about what may be causing feelings of anxiety
  • Using positive affirmations
  • Distracting yourself with a hobby or activity
  • Asking family and friends to support you

IBS management strategies could overlap with anxiety reduction techniques. These strategies might include:

  • Dietary control (eating more fiber, avoiding gluten, following IBS dietary recommendations)
  • Exercising
  • Stress management
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Medications and supplements to address diarrhea, constipation, or both

Best Anxiety Medication For IBS (IBS Anxiety Medication)

  • Alprazolam (such as Xanax)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Diazepam (such as Valium)
  • Lorazepam (such as Ativan)

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