Stomach Upset

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated May 18, 2021

stomach upset anxiety symptoms

Stomach upset, including nausea, bloating, butterflies in the stomach feeling, heavy feeling in the stomach, gas, belching, and acid reflux are common signs of anxiety disorder.

This article explains the relationship between anxiety and stomach upset symptoms.

Stomach Upset, Discomfort, Distress, Queasy anxiety symptoms common descriptions:

You may experience:

  • nausea
  • bloating
  • burning sensation in the stomach or pit of the stomach
  • gas, or being gaseous
  • belching, burping, excessive belching
  • feeling like there is a lump or knot in your stomach
  • stomach discomfort or distress
  • an uncomfortable fullness in your stomach
  • feeling like you have butterflies in your stomach
  • a tightness in your stomach
  • an 'anxiety' stomach
  • an excess of acidity
  • a 'heavy' stomach
  • a 'rumbling' after you eat sensation
  • an uneasiness in your stomach
  • acid reflux
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • loose stool
  • constipation
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • chronic stomach problems

To name a few.

Stomach distress may also cause erratic and sharp pains to radiate throughout the chest, neck, throat, and shoulder blades.

A person may have one, two, or all of the above symptoms.

The stomach upset anxiety symptom can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may have an upset stomach once in a while and not that often, have an upset stomach off and on, or have it all the time.

The stomach upset anxiety symptom upset anxiety symptom may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

The stomach upset anxiety symptom can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur 'out of the blue' and for no apparent reason.

The stomach upset anxiety symptom can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it's strong one moment and eases off the next.

The stomach upset anxiety symptom can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

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What causes the stomach upset anxiety symptom?

Medical Advisory

When this symptom is caused by stress (including the stress anxiety causes), behaving anxiously activates the stress response. The stress response immediately causes specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes in the body that enhance the body's ability to deal with a threat - to either fight with or flee from it - which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.

Part of the stress response changes include suppressing digestion so that all of the body's resources can be made available for emergency action. When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can recover relatively quickly from the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes the stress response brings about, and the body can relatively quickly return to normal functioning, including resuming digestion.

When stress responses occur too frequently, however, the body has a more difficult time recovering, which can result in the body remaining in a semi hyperstimulated state, since stress hormones are stimulants.

A body that becomes stress-response hyperstimulated can experience persistent emergency action readiness, which can cause lingering problems with digestion, including causing stomach problems, such as those listed above. Experiencing stomach upset is a common consequence of persistently elevated stress.

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How to get rid of the stomach upset anxiety symptom?

Because this symptom is just a symptom of elevated stress, it needn't be a cause for concern. It will subside when you reduce your stress and give your body ample time to calm down. As your body's stress returns to a more normal level, symptoms of stress subside, including stomach upset. Therefore, this anxiety symptom needn't be a cause for concern.

It's worth noting that once the stomach becomes upset due to stress and/or anxiety, it may take some time for it to settle out. It's not uncommon for stomach symptoms to take a lot longer to resolve than most people think.

There can also be complications with resolving stomach upset once it gets going. In this regard, you may want to work with a Natural Nutritional Therapist, such Liliana Tosic, to help eliminate persistent stomach upset. Often, diet can play an important role in overcoming persistent stomach problems once they've gotten started.

Chapter 9 in the Recovery Support area of our website is our anxiety symptoms chapter. It contains detailed information about all anxiety symptoms, including what they are, why they occur, what you can do to eliminate them, and how many people experience them (the percentage of people who experience each anxiety symptom). Our anxiety symptoms chapter includes a more detailed description and explanation about anxiety caused stomach upset.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our anxiety disorders signs and symptoms page. Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including the anxiety symptom stomach upset.