Relationship Between Anxiety and Digestive Problems.
The next system is the fear or anxiety system. This system is meant to warn you that something is amiss, it is like the Amber Alert system, it goes off to tell you that there is a danger approaching. This system is based in the need to freeze in the hopes that you can avoid the threat by in essence ‘playing dead’, if the threat does’t see you or hear you it can’t get you. Or the flight response which is the need to run. These are unconditioned responses.
Associated with this affective state is trembling, trepidation, and a feeling of generalized free floating anxiety, that just appears to have no environmental cause. When this system becomes activated it becomes about the fear of being afraid. This system promotes not only generalized anxiety disorders, but also neurotic disorders, phobias, and can produce symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. If this system is continuously stimulated then these symptoms can continuously occur.
When a person is based in fear this leads to emotional distress and emotional distress leads to digestive distress. Where there is anxiety and fear there is also digestive dis-ease. Digestion occurs in a parasympathetic state, meaning that we need to be relaxed in order to be able to digest. If you think about it, when you are frozen you are either going to do one of two things. The first is to be unable to eat, some people respond to stress on the system by stopping food intake and losing weight without even trying. Others disassociate from their body when they are in a state of freeze, meaning that they go into a kind of hypnotic state, into their subconscious. In a state of being frozen yet, desperately trying to self-medicate by eating, kind of like saying that you are not going to eat the bag of cookies but then all of a sudden waking up and realizing that you ate them and wondering how that happened.
Just like on the TV show, The Vicar of Dibley! There is this really funny British show that aired about ten years ago, about a female Vicar and she confesses that when she gets really stressed she blacks out and wakes up to realize she has eaten a seas worth of EatMore candy bars as she is engulfed in the leftover wrappers. This is a great example of a freeze response.
When the fear/anxiety system is repeatedly stimulated this stresses the bodies system, inflammation occurs, upsetting the digestive system, which in turn causes leaky gut and stress on the gut destroys the absorption of the micronutrients and the villi in the gut that allows the micronutrients to be absorbed into the blood stream. Your intestinal system starts to break down, and the boundaries in the gut due to the stress in the system also break down. In which the intestinal permeability starts to look like a torn up sponge.
The resulting stress can do one of two things; slow down or even stop the digestive process, leading to the feeling of nausea, bloating and constipation. Or, in the freeze state causes the need to quickly void the system in order to be able to run, causing diarrhoea. The fear or anxiety system can wreak havoc on the digestive system resulting also in other inflammatory responses such as; hiccups, heart burn, inflammatory bowl disease, stomach ulcers, and celiac disease.
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