Can Stress Lead to Diarrhea? Exploring the Mind-Gut Connection

Stress Lead to Diarrhea
Stress Lead to Diarrhea

According to the statistics published by the American Psychological Association (ASA) in the year 2022, approximately half of the US adult population is under stress or suffers from different anxiety disorders due to one reason or another.

If it persists for too long, this stressful mental health state subsequently starts affecting the physical health of a person, especially their gut. That’s why, people who are stressed are often found complaining about experiencing a ‘gut-wrenching feeling’ or ‘being nauseous’ all the time. Some of these feelings are often described as ‘butterflies in the stomach’.

Considering the significance of these issues, the in-depth analysis of the mind-gut connection answers some of the questions regarding the connection of stress with diarrhea. This understanding can lead to the prevention as well as therapeutic management of gastrointestinal conditions. But let us first understand what stress is and how is it connected to our gut.

Understanding Stress and Its Impact on Health

What is Stress?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines stress as ‘a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation.’ It is considered a ‘natural human response’ that is adopted by our body to address the challenging circumstances during our lifetime. It is also considered essential to respond to stressful conditions in a positive and optimistic way in order to improve one’s well-being.

Sources of Stress

Stress can come from many things. People might feel stressed on a temporary basis due to an incident in their lives such as an unexpected end to a happy relationship, extreme workload, or even the death of a loved one. Similarly, global situations such as inflation, global warming, risk of possible food shortages, and long-term armed conflicts can also cause stress to some people. Usually, the factors which contribute to stress include:

  • Extreme work pressure
  • Physical, verbal, or sexual abuse
  • Absence of healthy life activities
  • Absence of healthy relationships
  • Experiencing hatred, discrimination, or racism
  • Marital issues
  • Unemployment
  • Lack of emotional support
  • Health issues (e.g. thyroid disorders)

Effects of Stress on the Human Digestive System

Several studies have linked chronic stress to the occurrence of several digestive diseases. As per a study published in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, emotional stress as well as depression have been linked to the prevalence of several gastrointestinal disorders which include:

  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Dyspepsia, often called indigestion
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) leading to diarrhea
  • Reflux esophagitis i.e. swelling of the esophagus caused by the reflux of acidic gastric contents
  • Stomach or colon cancer

It has been found that among 1.7 billion cases of diarrhea that are reported every year at the global level, many can be considered a direct consequence of emotional stress. It is also suggested that people who have been suffering from long-term diarrhea should be referred to a psychiatrist for stress management. The reason behind this link is the famously known, mind-gut connection.

The Mind-Gut Connection

What is Mind-Gut Connection?

The mind-brain or gut-brain connection is a bidirectional link between our central nervous system and gut. In simple words, it can be said that our brain and gut are constantly in connection. They keep on sending messages to each other. This connection might seem familiar as all our organs are also communicating with our nervous system but with the gut, the case is slightly different. These two have a special link in which they exchange information about physical matters as well as emotional conditions.

Enteric Nervous System-Our Second Brain

This mind-gut connection, in fact, has a name i.e. enteric nervous system (ENS) or intrinsic nervous system. With the presence of approximately 600 million neurons which serve as a connection between the two organs, the enteric nervous system is nicknamed as ‘our second brain’. This neuronal mesh is responsible for managing our digestion, hunger, metabolism, food cravings, as well as gut mobility.

The sensitivity of our digestive lining is altered by stress as well as relaxation. It is evident from several studies that when we are relaxed and calm, our gut is less sensitive to infections and other diseases. However, it gets irritated as a result of excessive chronic stress thus resulting in increased gastric motility leading to a stress response i.e. diarrhea. This exchange of stress signals between our brain and digestive tract happens through the neurotransmitters secreted by the intestinal microbiome.

Symptoms of Stress-Related Diarrhea

When diarrhea is caused due to too much stress, its symptoms might vary from the usual diarrheal condition which might happen due to a bacterial infection. Along with the physical symptoms, certain emotional symptoms could also be linked to this diarrheal condition. These symptoms include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Passing of pus or blood in the stools
  • Blackish stools
  • Headache
  • Tension in the neck muscles
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Sleep-related issues
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Restlessness
  • Unexplained sadness
  • Depression
  • Altered libido (i.e. sex drive)

Usually, diarrhea should not last for more than two days as during this time, our body fights with the causative agents of the condition, kills them, and brings things back to normal. However, the news is that stress-related diarrhea is often healed automatically as soon as proper stress management is done to get rid of the particular stressor. Unlike the regular diarrheal condition, sometimes it does not even require treatment.

Diagnosis of Chronic Stress-Related Diarrhea

Stress-related diarrhea can be diagnosed by taking a patient’s lifestyle history. Identifying possible triggers can give away stress as a cause behind the condition. In addition, a blood and stool test can be performed to see if the patient has electrolyte deficiency as well as microbes in the feces. Pathology containers from Health Supply 770 can be grabbed to collect and save a stool sample. In some cases, an endoscopy is recommended which can be performed. Health Supply 770 has a wide range of endoscopy supplies to conduct the procedure with safety and efficiency.

Managing and Treating Stress-Related Diarrhea

Stress, although difficult to manage, is not impossible to get rid of. With proper changes in one’s lifestyle and a little bit of stress management training, the harmful psychological effects of stress can be reversed and a disturbed gut can be healed. For this purpose, the following recommendations serve as a guideline to reduce stress:

  • Hydration is Important

As diarrhea excretes too much water out of your body, you can easily become dehydrated and electrolyte deficient. Therefore, to replenish yourself, it is important to keep drinking water every few hours. Generally, taking at least one cup of water every time you pass a watery stool will help. You can also incorporate oral rehydrating solutions (ORS) into your water to get some of those electrolytes back.

  • Dietary Modifications

Adding foods to your diet that have a good impact on your gut microbiome can boost digestion and help prevent as well as manage stress-related diarrhea. Probiotics are one such item that helps our gut bacteria to stay at the required concentration and keep working for us efficiently. One should also avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco along with spicy foods.

  • Anti-Diarrheal Medications

If your diarrhea does not go away within two days, immediately contact a healthcare provider who might prescribe some anti-diarrheal medications. In some cases, your doctor can also advise you to administer an intravenous replacement sodium chloride solution to deal with the water loss. Health Supply 770 has a wide range of these solutions prepared from different manufacturers which are non-pyrogenic and are in ready-to-use form.

The products mentioned in this article, along with many other medical supplies, can be purchased from Health Supply 770, a reliable name when it comes to medical products. They have a 30-day money-back guarantee policy and provide your products to you in the shortest possible time.

Tips for Stress Management and Prevention of Stress-Related Diarrhea

Stress-related diarrhea can be prevented simply by being mindful of certain factors that give you stress. For this purpose, the following questions should be addressed. These will not only give away the reason behind stress but will also unveil the cause of your health problems.

What are My Stress Triggers?

One must find the triggers which often cause stress and lead to diarrheal conditions. These stressors can include certain places, circumstances, and even people. Whatever is making you uncomfortable and anxious should be considered as a potential stressor. Once identified, the only way out is to address that trigger. It is advised to ask yourself why this particular factor makes you anxious every time and then leads to gastrointestinal issues. You should note these down.

Am I Sleep-deprived?

In case of any disease, your doctor advises you to sleep well. The reason behind this is that while we are asleep, our bodies do most of the healing which is needed for our recovery. Therefore, getting enough sleep can prevent stress as well as diarrhea linked to it. To help you sleep well, scented candles from Health Supply 770 can be purchased which helps create a calm and pleasant atmosphere.

Do I have a Hobby?

Hobbies serve as the best ways to recharge us. Whether you read a book, listen to music, or play a sport, all of these have the potential to make you feel relaxed and calm thus reducing your stress levels. This calming effect can also be achieved by doing meditation or deep breathing exercises. The Breather B-Blue respiratory exerciser from Health Supply 770 is a great option to assist you in this regard.

Do I Get Enough Exercise?

When we exercise, our body releases endorphins, the pain-relieving hormone which is often termed as our ‘happy hormones’. These endorphins help boost our mood, reduce that muscle tension that is constantly experienced, and thus manage stress effectively.

Am I Eating Enough?

Sometimes, our eating habits are the culprits behind our poor mental state. Make sure you eat healthy nutritious food which is clean. Avoid ultra-processed foods and add more vegetables and fruits to your diet.

Am I focusing on My Mental Health?

Whether stressed or not, one must have a significant amount of healthy social interactions. The importance of healthy relationships increases when you are going through a stressful period. Talking to someone about your mental state and problems can help manage them while staying positive and optimistic. In addition, stress-induced memory impairment can also be reversed in this way.


Stress has a significant impact on our gut. People who are experiencing chronic stress often complain about having diarrhea every few days. Studies have linked the two i.e. chronic stress is a precursor of diarrhea and other gut issues. Therefore, to treat this diarrheal state, it is important to directly focus on managing stress using the recommended stress management techniques. As soon as the stress goes away, your gut will also be healed subsequently improving your physical and mental health. Multiple products from Health Supply 770 have been mentioned in the above-mentioned text which can help you prevent, manage, or treat the diarrheal state. Therefore, visit their website to check out a wide range of products at the most affordable prices.

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