Stress and IBS: Does Stress Cause IBS?

While it can be unpleasant to feel stress, it serves a biological purpose. Stress changes our physiology to help us respond effectively to life-threatening situations in a way that enhances our chances of survival. However, it is generally life events that cause the most stress these days rather than fear of getting eaten by a tiger. No matter the source, there is no doubt that stress has a negative effect on irritable bowel syndrome.

It is unclear whether or not stress causes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but there is a definite connection between the two. Stress affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls many major organs including the heart, lungs, and colon. When a person feels stress, the brain may stimulate the nerves connected to the colon and induce or aggravate IBS symptoms by causing the colon to contract. Even the slightest amount of stress can cause a person with a sensitive colon to experience unpleasant diarrhea or abdominal cramping.

Unfortunately, having irritable bowel syndrome can serve as both the cause and result of stress. Dealing with IBS is uncomfortable, has a negative impact on a person’s life, and can lead him or her to develop a psychiatric disorder. Research conducted by Edward Blanchard, professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany found that 60 percent of patients with IBS met the criteria for a psychiatric disorder. The most common one was generalized anxiety disorder.

Stress can also increase a person’s awareness of his or her IBS, making symptoms appear worse than they probably are. Additionally, IBS may be triggered by the immune system which is also negatively affected by stress. For all of these reasons and more, it is important to get stress under control.

Get regular exercise and good quality sleep

Work with a therapist or counselor to develop coping skills for handling stress

Talk to a trusted friend about life problems

Participate in stress-reducing activities like Yoga, meditation, or crafting

It is also a good idea to use medication and other treatment options to reduce or eliminate your IBS symptoms. We have selected a few all-natural products that can help alleviate the most common symptoms associated with IBS without unpleasant side effects. Learn about these Ibs products here.