How Stress Affects the Body – And Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Healthmind Body  » Health »  How Stress Affects the Body – And Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Stress is an IBS trigger, but it also causes many other problems. It can have a profound effect on your mental and physical health. Here are some facts that might surprise you.

Human beings encounter stress as a daily part of life. Every change in routine that requires us to react causes a little bit of stress. We respond with ingrained responses. Some are inherited; others are learned.

Little bits of stress are beneficial; they keep us alert and ready to respond to the difficulties of life. In fact, the only people who don’t experience stress are dead. However, prolonged periods of stress can have a devastating effect on your health, with symptoms such as:

• Colon spasms in people with IBS
• Upset stomach
• Altered digestive activity
• Headaches
• Sleep disturbances
• Elevated blood pressure
• Chest pain
• Tachycardia
• Irregular heartbeat
• Heart attacks
• Trembling or shakiness
• Decreased productivity at work
• Obesity
• Diabetes
• Loss of sex drive
• Menstrual irregularities
• Female hair loss
• Chronic fatigue
• Muscle pains
• Skin disorders
• Recurring infections
• Anxiety and panic attacks
• Shortness of breath
• Memory problems
• Depression
• Mental breakdown
• Substance abuse
• Abnormal immune system response

Stress also exacerbates conditions such as restless leg syndrome.

Relatively minor stress affects many people with irritable bowel syndrome. IBS itself causes stress, especially if it is accompanied by a lot of pain; this creates a self-feeding, vicious cycle that is often hard to break. It may affect close friends and family; they watch their loved one suffering, which tends to perpetuate the cycle as everyone becomes tense and anxious.

There is a huge benefit to be gained by removing or reducing the negative stress in your life.

Here are a few suggestions:

• Avoid watching the news for a few days. Opt for comedies or upbeat musicals instead.

• Take a day off if you work in a stressful environment.

• Hunt for funny photos at Try searches like:

– smiling cat
– laughing moose
– laughing
– smiling dog

Laughter stimulates the immune system and boosts infection-fighting processes. It also decreases pain and provides a distraction from stressful situations.

• Associate with funny people who make you laugh.

• Try deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.

• Avoid brooding about your condition. Focus your attention on other things instead.


The material provided here is for informational purposes only. It should not replace proper medical treatment, advice, or diagnosis. Always consult your doctor and other health-care providers, as appropriate, before consuming any medications, supplements, or natural remedies; or before altering your diet. Discuss all your symptoms, plans, and medical conditions with your physician.

Any application of the ideas contained in this article is at your own risk, discretion, and responsibility. There are no representations or warranties, either express or implied, and the author assumes no liability for any of the information presented.

You should not begin or discontinue medical treatment based on information contained in this, or any other, article.