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How Stress Management Can Treat Digestive Issues

How Stress Management Can Treat Digestive Issues

Have you noticed that you experience digestive distress — whether that’s cramping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or something else — when you have a big work or school deadline coming up, if you’ve had an argument with your partner, or you’re facing financial problems?

The link of mind-body connection is real, and so is the link between stress and gastrointestinal health. 

Dr. Mandeep Walia-Bhatia and the team at Gain Wellness Center help patients every day to manage stress more effectively and, in turn, alleviate a range of uncomfortable physical symptoms. We realize it isn’t always possible to dial down stress at the drop of a hat because, well, life isn’t like that. But we can help you show stress who’s boss and tame it.

What is stress?

Put simply, stress is any person or event that causes you to fret. In ancient times, we developed a fight-or-flight response to stresses such as being threatened by a tiger. Now fortunately, we don’t have to deal with that anymore. Although some stress can be considered positive, like when you’re competing at a sport, for example, intense and unrelenting stress is damaging to both your emotional and physical health.

What are the range of digestive problems people can experience?

Digestive problems fall under a large umbrella. It can look like the symptoms we mentioned earlier, but you might also notice:

Just considering this list is enough to make you understand that living with these symptoms for an extended period of time isn’t sustainable and can reduce your well-being even further since these long-term symptoms can lead to anxiety and depression. 

Dr. Walia may quickly suspect stress as the cause of your digestive problems if there isn’t any conclusive diagnosis of a digestive condition like a food sensitivity or allergy, hormonal imbalance, or a condition such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 

What’s the crossover with stress and digestive problems?

It may surprise you to learn that your brain and digestive system are in constant communication. Your digestive system is partly controlled by the central nervous system in your brain and spinal cord. It even has specific neurons that live in the lining of your gastrointestinal system called the intrinsic nervous system. 

When stressed, your sympathetic nervous system, which is what regulates your breathing, blood pressure, and heartbeat, is put into that fight-or-flight response we referenced earlier. Cortisol, which is the stress hormone, is released, and your blood pressure, cholesterol, breathing, heart rate, and level of muscle tension all increase. 

At this point, your digestive system may respond with a range of symptoms from constipation, stomach pain, and diarrhea to esophageal spasms and nausea — all in all, an unpleasant mix. Even worse, stress may not cause conditions like IBS, but it can exacerbate them.

How can I manage my stress to alleviate digestive problems?

Dr. Walia prescribes both self-care treatments and treatments she can administer to help you manage your stress, so you end up with a happier gut. She recommends a special evaluation unique to Gain Wellness Center that gives her loads of helpful information about your specific situation. It’s called the Complete Wellness Evaluation, and the test assesses your:

In addition to counseling you on dietary changes you can make, ways to add more physical activity into your life, and other helpful prescriptive advice, Dr. Walia carefully examines the amount of stress you’re managing. 

Effective stress management also involves finding a way to eat that serves you better, exercising to relieve tension, practicing good sleep hygiene habits, and incorporating mindfulness practices, such as medication, into your routines. It may also look like embracing the things that give you joy more, from connecting socially to finding time for much loved hobbies like knitting, gardening, or playing an instrument.

The Gain Wellness Center approach is one that honors every patient’s total self. In other words, we work to find the root cause of your symptoms, we don’t just treat one or two symptoms alone. 

Call us at 858-206-9715 to schedule your complimentary wellness consultation, or book an appointment online. We’re dedicated to partnering with you to balance your stress and improve your health and vitality. 

Author
Dr. Mandeep Walia-Bhatia, DC, AFMCP Dr. Mandeep Walia-Bhatia, DC, AFMCP, is the founder of Gain Wellness Center in San Diego, California. At the wellness center, one of Dr. Walia's, greatest goals, as a health care provider, is to provide her practice members with alternative, but healthy and safe choices that will enhance their health and well-being. She likes to motivate and educate her practice members to take charge of their health by providing them with evidence-based information so that they can make informed decisions regarding their own personal health and take control of their health. Dr. Walia was born in India and raised in Canada before moving to San Diego. She attended McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada for her Master of Science degree with specialties in Biology and Physiology. She had various publications in research articles during her time at McMaster University funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. She has three kids and enjoys cooking, hiking and going to the beach with her family.

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