How can I tell if my gastrointestinal (GI) problems are stress-related?

Lawrence S. Friedman, MD
When evaluating whether your gastrointestinal symptoms -- such as heartburn, abdominal cramps, or loose stools -- are related to stress, watch for these other common symptoms of stress and report them to your clinician as well.

Physical symptoms

Stiff or tense muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders
  • Headaches
  • Sleep problems
  • Shakiness or tremors
  • Recent loss of interest in sex
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Restlessness
Behavioral symptoms
  • Procrastination
  • Grinding teeth
  • Difficulty completing work assignments
  • Changes in the amount of alcohol or food you consume
  • Taking up smoking, or smoking more than usual
  • Increased desire to be with or withdraw from others
  • Rumination (frequent talking or brooding about stressful situations)
Emotional symptoms
  • Crying
  • Overwhelming sense of tension or pressure
  • Trouble relaxing
  • Nervousness
  • Quick temper
  • Depression
  • Poor concentration
  • Trouble remembering things
  • Loss of sense of humor
  • Indecisiveness

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