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Stress Diarrhoea: Bad Food Is Not The Only Cause

While the movements in your stomach and small intestine would decrease, the movement in the large intestine would increase

It has been observed that stressful situations might sometimes lead to intestinal cramping and which would result in diarrhoea

Written by Kashish Sharma |Published : November 22, 2022 1:32 PM IST

Our gut is called the second mind. You might believe it or not but your digestive tract works hand in hand with your nervous system. It is not an unfamiliar situation that when a test or an important meeting is to begin, you might suddenly feel your stomach going all wobbly. While some amount of stress is important for our day-to-day functioning but when it crosses the healthy threshold, its effect can be seen not only on your psychological health but your physical health as well. Your stomach and intestines are also affected by stress. All diarrhoea and constipation are not necessarily caused by stale or dirty food alone, some might be the aftermath of bad anxiety and stress.

Diarrhoea can be defined as watery, loose stools and can be acute or chronic depending on the period for which it might happen. It mostly involves a sudden feeling of cramping and the urgent need to empty one's bowels.

Connection between watery stools and anxiety

Diarrhoea is usually an underlying symptom of some condition. The human body does not just have a psychological response to stress but also a physical one. When the body perceives a threat in the environment, it sets the body in a fight-flight response. The hormones released during the process bring down the gut function. While the movements in your stomach and small intestine would decrease, the movement in the large intestine would increase. The body will do it expel harmful toxins but the outcome would be diarrhoea.

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An interesting study

A study performed by Almy and Tulin in the 1940s involved doctors using special instruments to measure how much the colon contracted during stressful events, such as in traffic or while engaging in challenging tasks. It was also observed that stressful situations might sometimes lead to intestinal cramping and which would result in diarrhoea.

Anxiety and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

People who are affected by Irritable Bowel Syndrome have overly sensitive colons. These people are more likely to get diarrhoea when they are anxious. People who live with both conditions (anxiety and IBS) can experience symptoms of one condition which is often triggered by another condition.

Rule out IBS

The anxiety leading to diarrhoea can be a possibility but it is always wise to rule out other conditions like IBS. Here are a few symptoms that could be of IBS-

  1. Pain and discomfort in the abdomen that doesn't go away with time
  2. Stomach cramps
  3. Increased gas
  4. Alternative diarrhoea and constipation
  5. Symptoms that may get worsen with certain foods like caffeine or meat or other things.

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