Did you know as many as 1 in 5 Australians suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and approximately 1 in 7 Australians suffer anxiety…both very worrying figures, which desperately needs addressing. However, I am confident we all have the power within to make the change. It just takes some extra awareness and learning to trust our bodies. With that said...lets dig a little deeper...
What exactly is IBS?
IBS is essentially a diagnosis given when someone presents with a range of gastrointestinal symptoms including bloating, nausea, abdominal pain and alternating constipation and diarrhoea.
When the symptoms cannot be ‘explained’ the catchall diagnosis of IBS is given. IBS isn’t normal and experiencing the symptoms of IBS day in day out does not have to be your fate. There is help available and relief can be sought, it’s about looking a bit deeper at the cause and addressing the underlying problem…. why exactly is your digestive system irritated?
Anxiety & IBS – the Link
I see anxiety present hand in hand with IBS all too frequently. This does make sense considering our gut and brain share many of the same nerve endings, hormones and neurotransmitters, thus ensuring a permanent link between the gut and brain. Our emotions can also have a significant impact on the physiological functioning of our gut, for example if serotonin levels are low it can lead to delayed gastric emptying, low gastric acid and enzymes, constipation, bloating, and upper-abdominal pain. On the other hand if adrenaline is high and we are in fight or flight mode our body will try to eliminate any waste it has…urgently!
The chicken or the egg?
An unpredictable gut can create much anxiety as you can find yourself caught out or just never feeling settled. This unpredictability and high reactivity causes anxiety and hypersensitivity to any sound or feeling coming from you gut. You can become hypervigilant with what you eat and your environment to avoid any 'incidents.' It’s incredibly limiting on your life and down right mentally exhausting.
Some pass this off as purely anxiety driven….”I am feeling anxious and that upsets my gut, its all in my head.”
While this can be the case and is a lot of the time…. its important to think back to when your gut first starting playing up, did you eat something off, travel somewhere exotic or were you simply just more stressed?
When treating anxiety around IBS, it’s vital to rule out any physical cause because without treating the trigger the calm cannot be reclaimed. It’s hard to trust your body when it’s controlling you, gaining that trust back is a powerful way to overcome anxiety around IBS.
If you are feeling unsure whether your gut is playing tricks on your mind or vice versa, be open to the possibility of exploring a cause other than ‘your mind’ – it could be the gateway to living a free happy life!
Casey Dick | Passionate Dedicated Natural Nutritionist | Brisbane, Australia, Dietary Nutritionist, Healthy Body and Mind Advocate, Natural Hormone Balance & Healthy Weight Loss, Natural Skin Health, Anorexia, Eating Disorder Recovery, Orthorexia, Thyroid, Non-dieting Approach, Gut Health, Nutritionist specialises in PCOS, Why can’t I lose weight, Weight Loss Resistance