Anxiety and Gastrointestinal Problems

By Kaitlyn Choi

Anxiety can manifest itself in many distinctive ways, including physical, mental, and emotional indications. It is often debilitating for individuals who experience anxiety; consequently, anxiety disorders impact quality of life and functioning in everyday activities. They are commonly associated with gastrointestinal problems.

The digestive tract is hypersensitive to change within and outside of the body. There are many ways in which stress and anxiety can create adverse effects in one’s digestive system. Anxiety causes high levels of arousal; the body can send signals to the stomach to stimulate the fight or flight response. Activation of the fight or flight response slows down processes that are unnecessary for escaping danger, one of them being the digestive system.

This response can alter the way that the stomach processes and digests food, which, in turn, causes nausea, vomiting, and indigestion. As anxiety is a long-term, chronic issue, these problems may accumulate and negatively affect the digestive tract over long periods of time. Although many individuals experience nausea and digestive problems, not all vomit. Vomiting usually occurs in cases of extreme anxiety. On the other hand, throwing up may be a conscious process because nausea creates a compelled regurgitation response, encouraging the body to vomit.

It is important that we debunk the myth that anxiety consists of just emotional and mental symptoms. In fact, many individuals experience both physical and mental discomfort.

If you or someone you know needs support with their mental illness, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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