**Stress and IBS
-It's not totally clear how stress, anxiety, and irritable bowel syndrome are related -- or which one comes first -- but studies show they can happen together.
-There are several theories about the connection between IBS, stress, and anxiety:
-Although psychological problems like anxiety don’t cause the digestive disorder, people with IBS may be more sensitive to emotional troubles.
-Stress and anxiety may make the mind more aware of spasms in the colon.
-IBS may be triggered by the immune system, which is affected by stress.
**Types of Stress
-Acute Stress: Short-term stress that often accompanies fleeting moments of panic or dread. Examples include realizing you’ve missed a deadline for work or school, or nearly being involved in a car accident.
-Episodic Acute Stress: An accumulation of individual moments of acute stress. People who feel burdened by day-to-day struggles may attempt to alleviate their frustrations through unhealthy behaviours like overeating or binge drinking.
-Chronic Stress: Many factors can contribute to chronic stress, including poverty, abuse, and trauma. People tend to internalize these painful experiences, and over time this can wear down the mind and lead to feelings of hopelessness.
**How Stress May Trigger IBS?
-The body’s goal is to maintain homeostasis, or a steady state of being.
-After a stress response, fluctuating hormones are meant to return to normal levels.
-However, when people experience chronic stress and anxiety, their bodies can’t achieve homeostasis. This is often the case when a person has IBS.
-Stress can wreak havoc on your gut. It causes the release of many hormones, including corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF).
-This hormone is linked to the gut’s healthy bacteria, which maintains bowel function.
-The extra CRF also activates your body’s immune response.
-While that may sound like a good thing, immune activity can have adverse effects, as is the case when a person has a strong allergic response to a healthy food.
-Chronic stress can cause your intestinal bacteria to be imbalanced, a condition known as dysbiosis.
-Stress-induced dysbiosis may play a key role in a person developing IBS.
**How Stress May Worsen IBS?
-An estimated 40 to 60 percent of those with IBS have a psychiatric disorder, such as anxiety or depression.
-Stress and major life traumas, such as a breakup, loss of a close family member, or a family member leaving home, are all known to worsen the symptoms associated with IBS.
-Stress can have the following effects on IBS: reduces intestinal blood flow; increases intestinal permeability; activates your immune system; causes your immune system to become inflamed
-All of these changes can greatly affect IBS systems. And for a person who has a lot of stress in their life, the symptoms can become severe.
**The Relaxation Response
-The relaxation response is the rest and digest part of the nervous system.
-It basically undoes the work of the stress response after a stressful situation.
-The relaxation response happens when we feel safe, nurtured or taken care of.
-It can block effects from your body’s response to stress.
-This is good for your mental and physical health.
**Effective Relaxation Techniques
-The most effective relaxation technique is one that works for you!
-Different relaxation techniques will help different people at different times.
-What works for you this week, may not work next week.
-But it might work again next month.
-Our needs vary and so it’s important to have a toolbox of relaxation techniques to help you on a regular basis.