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Thread: Constant stomach pains because of anxiety? Join the club.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Constant stomach pains because of anxiety? Join the club.

    Stomach pain is one of the most commonly talked about physical anxiety symptoms on the No More Panic forums so I thought Iíd write a (probably rather long) post on my on-going and seemingly eternal battle with this monster.

    If thereís one physical symptom of anxiety that Iíve been plagued with all my life, itís stomach pain in various guises. It can be sharp or dull (usually dull), higher or lower (usually lower), and left or right (it seems to have no preference). I get bloating, gurgling, tenseness, butterflies (not literally, I hope), awful backache, toilet urgency and toilet reluctance. In other words, it can take just about any form. Is it IBS? Does it have some other name? Who knows?

    The main problem is that so many other illnesses cause the same symptoms which makes us convinced that itís got a serious physical cause. This, of course, makes us even more anxious which, in turn, makes the pain worse. The usual vicious circle. I know how difficult it is to believe that anxiety can cause such real symptoms. Just when I think Iíve cracked it, it creeps back and puts doubt in my mind. Even after every medical test known to humankind, it still catches me out.

    So after the doom and gloom, is there anything we can do about it? Well first, the obvious:

    ∑ Get checked over by your GP. Other causes need to be excluded.
    ∑ Try looking for patterns relating to food youíve eaten. Cut the usual culprits out (alcohol, gluten, dairy, pulses) one by one and see what happens.
    ∑ Try some of the OTC IBS treatments such as peppermint oil or Colofac.

    This might work but it doesnít do much for me. When my stomach is ok, I can eat/drink whatever I want with no problems. When I have the pain, certain things such as onions, chillies and certain alcoholic drinks make it worse. All this has led me to realise that the only way to break the vicious circle and start to recover is by addressing the anxiety itself. This can be hard if, like me, you often donít even realise youíre anxious at all.

    So here goes, tips from me which help:

    ∑ Donít Google the symptoms. Really, donít do it!
    ∑ Stay active even if you feel really sluggish and tired. Inactivity is your worst enemy in these circumstances.
    ∑ Find ways to relax Ė more on this below.
    ∑ Distract yourself doing whatever it takes. I find reading good.
    ∑ I mentioned more tips in a previous thread which you might find useful

    So back to relaxation which is the holy grail for us long-suffering anxious folk. Half the time, Iím so tense that itís a wonder I can actually move my limbs at all. If you tell me to sit down and relax, you may as well say poke your finger in a plug socket for all the good it does me. Itís taken me years to find out what works for me especially as Iím a natural sceptic and what I would describe as Ďnew ageí techniques usually make me cringe so much that I get tenser. Having said that, I am willing to try new things and if they donít work, thatís just the way it is.

    My greatest discovery is guided meditation which, I must be honest, took me by surprise. Iíve listened to a lot but I just couldnít bear how artificial most of them are, and I end up fighting against them. However, there are some great videos out there with my particular favourites being by Michael Sealey. The ones I enjoy the most involve picturing certain environments and your place in them. I have a rather vivid imagination and get easily absorbed into these which stops my mind whirling like a super-fast spin cycle, as is normally the case. Michael actually does a very good 30-minute session aimed at IBS which involves imagining a calming scene and walking through it. Ok, some of itís a bit cheesy at times but I donít care if it works. I end up felling much more relaxed which can last anything from 5 minutes to the rest of the day. Some are described as hypnosis. Whether Iíve ever actually been hypnotised by these videos is very doubtful but I canít be sure as I often fall asleep. Regardless, theyíre tried and tested so you wonít end up dancing around and squawking like a chicken whenever someone says the magic word.

    To help the relaxation process along, and I canít believe Iím going to say this, I find nice scents really help. Iím no expert (or believer, in fact) in aromatherapy so thatís not what Iím talking about. I just like nice smells which can range from freshly cut wood, grass clippings, rain after a dry spell and certain perfumes. My other half doesnít like it when I bring grass clippings and logs in the bedroom so I thought Iíd try something else. The solution: incense sticks and essential oils. As I said, I have no idea what their supposed properties are; I just pick the ones that smell nice to me. It really helps me to calm my mind and switch off. I particularly like lavender and sandalwood but you will have other favourites.

    The next stop for me is to try yoga (any tips from NMP members gratefully received). I just need to find a) the time and b) a class where I wonít end up in a room full of super-bendy yummy mummies who make me feel self-conscious about hardly being able to sit on the floor, let alone do the lotus position or similar.

    So, if youíve made it through to the end of my essay, well done and I hope some part of it helps. Feel free to add, comment or generally disagree if you want to. Iím no expert and can only tell you what works for me. Writing all of this down also helps me which was part of the reason for my post. It has reminded me that anxiety can play all sorts of tricks on our bodies and not to head to the surgery of Dr. Google.

    Take care everyone

    Not drowning, but waving

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2017

    Re: Constant stomach pains because of anxiety? Join the club.

    Great post pipkin! As someone who has been suffering from stomach issues for a while and am on the road to an ibs diagnosis it's comforting to hear that it's not the end of the world.

    I agree with not googling. All that comes up when you put in stomach symptoms is cancer, which is stupidly rare in people under 50.

    Thanks for all the useful info here!
    Current meds:

    Pregabalin 300mg

  3. #3

    Re: Constant stomach pains because of anxiety? Join the club.

    Good post.
    Thankyou I do suffer with IBS and have done for over 10 years.
    However early this Year my usual IBS symptoms changed and along with this came the anxiety-fueled 100% by google!(never again will I google my symptoms-all it ever comes back with is Cancer)This literally convinced me that I have it in some form or another.
    Cue lots of tests and currently waiting for a Colonoscopy which no one except me thinks I need!?
    Anxiety is a bitch.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Re: Constant stomach pains because of anxiety? Join the club.

    Thanks for the replies chaps. Not that I want anyone else to suffer but it does help when you know that you're far from alone.

    Earlier this year, I went to my GP and asked for a thorough check-up to try and confirm once and for all that this was all anxiety related. I was poked and prodded, relieved of some blood and urine for various tests and had to give the dreaded stool sample. Needless to say, all came back clear. In fact on paper, I'm as fit as a fiddle. It doesn't stop the doubt creeping back in at times though which is a problem for most of us.

    Chin up, onwards and upwards etc..

    Not drowning, but waving

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2016

    Re: Constant stomach pains because of anxiety? Join the club.

    This is a fantastic post, as someone going through abdominal troubles myself at the minute, there is an incredible amount of comfort knowing i'm not alone. Cheers pip!
    It's always darkest before the dawn.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2016

    Re: Constant stomach pains because of anxiety? Join the club.

    For me it started with anxiety early last year. Which late last year turned into gastritis and anxiety attacks. Since then I have had alot of medical test. The only negatives are low blood platelets at 110 and a 2cm hiatal hernia. All my doctors still think its anxiety.

    It seems at times I take 2 steps forward then 3 steps back. Its so hard at times for me to go to work. Im not sure what to do anymore. I try to work on the anxiety as much as possible. This stuff has me scared at times. How do you know its anxiety and not something else?

    Everyday wake up praying it will be gone but no luck.
    Current Symptoms: I get mostly.

    Tight feeling behind sternum like trapped wind.
    Off on on burping like crazy
    Numb fingers off and on all day.
    Weird off balance feeling legs off and on.
    Tired legs and weird pains all over.

    Is this really all anxiety? Wish I knew for sure.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Re: Constant stomach pains because of anxiety? Join the club.

    I've suffered with this for a long, long time. All I know is that I'd be long gone if it were something more serious. I also made the connection between times of heightened anxiety and the pain getting worse several years ago. It's worth thinking this through as it can be quite telling. Unfortunately, I don't always recognise when my anxiety has started so the stomach pain can be the first symptom.

    The connection between the gut and the brain is far more complex than we understand but I know that it's very real. The symptoms aren't imaginary and we're not malingering. An anxious brain can wreak havoc on our bodies and we need to work out ways to accept this and to find ways of relaxing without giving in all together.

    Remember that we're in this together and we understand better than anyone how hard it is

    Not drowning, but waving

  8. #8

    Re: Constant stomach pains because of anxiety? Join the club.

    OK my stomach always bothers me then I get tension in back. I am not sure if there are doctors on here but should I get another test. I have had internal ultrasound, cbc, cat scan with contrast! all normal. Tomorrow I am having a cystoscopy on my bladder!

    I have food in my poop a lot and I just don't know why my GI said not to worry. He tested for H-pylori which was negative! What more can I do!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2014

    Re: Constant stomach pains because of anxiety? Join the club.

    Brilliant thread Pip

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2017

    Re: Constant stomach pains because of anxiety? Join the club.

    This really helped me relax by just reading it. I plan on doing more of these things to try and help me out.

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