Does Anxiety Cause Bloating?

Does Anxiety Cause Bloating?

Does Anxiety Cause Bloating?

Have you ever noticed that when you’re more anxious than usual, you’re also more bloated than usual? If you’ve spotted this correlation, you’re not alone.

Anxiety-related or stress-related bloating is a common issue, although it can vary in severity between individuals. The close connection between bloating and anxiety is due to the significant impacts that your emotions can have on your physical body.

In this article, we’re going to delve deeper into this topic. We will take a look at whether anxiety is a true cause of bloating (spoiler alert - it is!) and the mechanism behind why being anxious leads to more bloat. We will finish up with some helpful tips and lifestyle changes to relieve bloating.

Does Anxiety Cause Bloating?

The short answer to ‘Does anxiety cause bloating?’ is yes. Anxiety can absolutely cause bloating. 

Whether you realise it or not, you might get extremely bloated before an interview for your dream job, during a social event with people you don’t know very well, or during a long-haul flight if you have a fear of heights. But why does this happen? After all, isn’t anxiety all in your head?

Well, the first thing to recognise is that your mental state can significantly impact your physical state. So, if you’re somebody who deals with chronic anxiety and worry, you also probably have ongoing physical health problems or generalised symptoms in your body.

This is due to the close connection between the brain and body, aptly named the gut-brain connection or gut-brain axis. Despite what many people believe, the brain and body aren’t compartmentalised - they are very closely linked and can influence one another.

When you’re anxious, your brain perceives these feelings as danger. As a result, your brain sends out danger signals to the body, causing your adrenal glands (that sit just on top of your kidneys) to pump lots of cortisol into your bloodstream.

Cortisol causes a bunch of different things to happen in the body, one of which is the slowing down of your digestion. Cortisol diverts blood from your gastrointestinal tract to your muscles to help you if you need to run away from the perceived danger, causing food to take a lot longer to get through your digestive system.

When food sits in your colon longer than it should, you’ll end up with a ‘backlog’ that causes you to feel bloated, swollen, and sluggish.

Main Causes of Bloating from Anxiety

Bloating is a physical side effect of anxiety, and there are a number of different reasons why you can get bloated when you’re stressed and worried, including the following. 

1. The stress response

We spoke about the stress response in the section above, and this is one of the most common reasons why being anxious causes excess gas and abdominal bloating.

When your brain thinks you’re in danger, it goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode and moves blood away from your digestive tract, slowing down digestion and causing bloating.

2. Changes in appetite and diet

Many people’s appetite and food intake changes when they’re feeling particularly anxious. You might end up eating and drinking a lot more than usual to comfort yourself during times of worry and stress, or you might eat more quickly. All of these behaviours can cause bloating.

You could end up choosing different foods when you’re anxious. For example, if you go for highly processed foods that are packed full of saturated fats, salt, and sugar, leading to digestive symptoms like bloating.

3. Changes in fluid intake

If you’re drinking less water because you’re too stressed to think about hydration, this can further slow digestion down and exacerbate bloating. If there isn’t enough water in your colon, your stool will harden and become harder to pass, causing constipation and lots of bloat.

4. Taking certain medications

Antidepressant medications, which are often prescribed for those with chronic anxiety, are known to cause digestive symptoms that contribute to bloating.

Anxiety can also cause an increased risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) due to the stress response (once again, you can thank cortisol for this), and if you end up taking antihypertensive medications to counteract this symptom, you could also be prone to excessive bloating.

5. Muscle tension

Anxiety can lead to muscle tension throughout the whole body, including in the abdominal area. Tightened abdominal muscles can disrupt or halt the movement of food and gas through your lower digestive tract, which can cause abdominal discomfort, bloating, and cramping.

Tips to Manage Anxiety

A small amount of anxiety every so often is actually beneficial for you (for example, if you’ve got an upcoming interview, anxiety can motivate you to prepare properly or present yourself nicely to the hiring manager). However, chronic anxiety can be unhealthy and may lead to negative physical symptoms.

Ongoing anxiety can cause symptoms like fatigue, digestive problems, dizziness, sweating, trembling, trouble concentrating, skin issues, high blood pressure, and poor mental health. Tackling anxiety can help to relieve these symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Here are some helpful tips that you can try to manage your anxiety more effectively.

1. Incorporate deep breathing or meditation into your daily routine

Deep breathing and meditation can activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the branch of your autonomic nervous system that is responsible for ‘resting and digesting’. When your parasympathetic nervous system is activated, you’ll feel more relaxed and less on edge.

You don’t need hours and hours of spare time to practice deep breathing or meditation! Just 10-15 minutes will do, and this can be enough time to elicit all of the positive benefits of these activities, including reduced anxiety and worry.

2. Avoid jam-packing your schedule

A full weekly schedule can be stressful in and of itself, and it can lead to fatigue and burnout if you never end up getting time off. While it’s great to work hard, earn money, and work your way up the career ladder if you desire, you also need to consider your health.

Take at least one full day off during each week to fully relax and wind down. Avoid working from dusk til dawn during the week and consider outsourcing some of your work tasks to other people if you can. Ensuring you regularly take time for yourself without focusing on work will reduce your worry, stress, and anxiety.

3. Exercise daily and eat a healthy diet

Exercise and nutrition might not seem to play a significant role in managing anxiety, but you’d be surprised at the difference regular exercise and a healthy diet make to your mental health.

Physical activity causes the release of endorphins and feel-good hormones that make you feel happy and motivated. It may also improve your self-esteem, making you feel more confident and content.

A great diet fuels your body and mind with all of the nutrients that it needs to function well, helping to minimise mental health issues like anxiety. Avoiding high-sugar foods and caffeinated drinks that can cause energy crashes and poor sleep is also beneficial for reducing anxiety and related symptoms.

4. Consider journalling

Journalling isn’t for everybody, but it can be extremely beneficial if you’re dealing with ongoing anxiety. It allows you to ‘brain dump’ and get all of the thoughts that are whirring around in your head onto paper to prevent these thoughts from escalating. Journalling is almost like personal therapy and can be great for relieving your worries.

How to Relieve Bloating

If you’re keen on getting off stubborn bloat, we have some top tips to help you. Give the following things a try to see if they relieve your bloating (and other digestive symptoms) once and for all.

1. Take digestive enzymes before or after you eat a meal

Your body makes its own digestive enzymes, which are proteins that help to break down the foods you eat into smaller, easily absorbable parts in your digestive tract. However, if you don’t have enough digestive enzymes due to a health condition or you’re particularly prone to post-meal bloating, you might benefit from taking a digestive enzyme supplement. 

Our A Dose For Bloating supplement contains seven different digestive enzymes. These enzymes support your body’s natural digestive processes to speed up the breakdown of food and prevent bloating and constipation.

2. Add a probiotic to your daily routine

Another great supplement to include in your daily routine is a probiotic. Although you’ll have probiotic bacteria naturally in your colon, which aid digestion and vitamin production, you can give your digestive system a boost with a high-quality probiotic supplement.

A Dose For Bloating contains two billion probiotic bacteria that help your gut break down food and produce beneficial compounds for your body. You’ll notice a reduction in your bloating (and other digestive symptoms like gas and abdominal cramps) within just a week or two when taking our digestive enzyme and probiotic supplement.

3. Drink herbal teas

Herbal teas can be beneficial for your digestion, and they’re a great natural remedy for bloating. Drinking a cup of herbal tea a day could tackle stubborn and persistent bloating to provide some much-needed relief from your discomforts.

Herbal teas come in a range of flavours, so you shouldn’t struggle to find an option or two that takes your fancy. Whether you like lemon, ginger, chamomile, peppermint, or vanilla, you can get yourself a selection of delicious teas to drink when your digestive system is playing up. You might find herbal teas particularly beneficial if you’re prone to bloating because of a chronic digestive disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD).

4. Meet your daily potassium requirements

Although not spoken about as much as calcium or iron, potassium is just as important as every other mineral for the body. Potassium is essential for nerve impulse transmission and fluid balance in the body.

It’s the major role that potassium plays in fluid regulation that makes it an important consideration for bloating. One of the potential reasons for excessive bloating is a lack of dietary potassium. Consuming too little potassium can cause an increase in fluid retention in the gut, leading to abdominal bloating.

Adding more potassium to your diet could eliminate your bloating altogether or, at the very least, reduce its severity and frequency. Potassium-rich foods include avocados, kiwis, bananas, and potatoes.

5. Avoid trigger foods

You may or may not know what your triggers are if you’re a common bloater. Identifying and avoiding your trigger foods can help to reduce the frequency and severity of your bloating, making eating and drinking more enjoyable.

For many people with digestive issues, fatty foods (like junk foods and packaged, processed snacks) and spicy foods are triggering and can cause severe bloating. However, your trigger foods might be different to the common ingredients, so do some experimentation to figure out what your digestive system likes and doesn’t like.

Final Words

If you’re prone to bloating, you can give the bloating remedies above a go and see if they help. Bloating can be nasty, uncomfortable, and even painful at times, so tackling it with effective methods is important.

When you know how to relieve bloating and other digestive symptoms, you can improve your quality of life and make food and eating as enjoyable as possible. You will no longer need to worry or stress about eating out at restaurants or consuming more food than usual in one sitting because you’ll know exactly how to get rid of bloating as soon as it rears its ugly head.

If you want any more info about our supplement, A Dose For Bloating, get in touch with our team at Wild Dose. We’d also love to hear your thoughts when you have tried our product!