Can Stress Cause Constipation or Stomach Pain?

Can Stress Cause Constipation or Stomach Pain?

Scientists know many interconnections between many body systems, resulting in complex interactions that are now understood by researchers a little better. Can Stress Cause Constipation or Stomach Pain?

Recently, studies have proven the relationship between the gastrointestinal tract and brain function. What happens in your gut affects the physiological and psychological activity in the brain. So, can stress cause constipation or stomach pain?

Read: The Impact of Stress on Your Sleep Quality

The Relationship Between Gut Health and Mental Health

In the past, researchers believed that mental health problems could create problems in the digestive system. Those who are anxious or depressed are more likely to have stomach or bowel disorders. So, the answer to stress that can cause constipation or stomach pain is yes.

However, more recent research suggests that it could be the other way around: gut health can affect mental health. In fact, many scientists believe that all diseases begin in the intestines.

Microbiome in Gut

Your digestive system is designed to contain colonies of bacteria, good and bad. Good bacteria are needed to break down the food you eat. This allows your body to effectively use nutrients for better health.

In healthy individuals, good bacteria multiply and outnumber bad bacteria. As good bacteria develop, there is no room for bad bacteria to survive. Balance and homeostasis refer to the right balance in the gut microbiome.

However, there are several factors that can decrease the number of good bacteria or increase the number of bad bacteria. Once the colony of bad bacteria begins to exceed the good amount, problems can occur throughout your body. It is included in the brain, which regulates mental health.

Gut-Brain Axis

The connection between the digestive tract and the brain is commonly known as the intestinal-brain axis. In the entire digestive tract, there are nerves similar to those found in the brain. Neurons in the gut can talk to your brain through the vagus nerve, a two-way communication system.

Bacteria present in your digestive tract release chemicals that activate neurons that signal various responses inside the brain. When there is a balance in the gastrointestinal tract, good bacteria produce neurotransmitters that are beneficial to the brain.

As a result, excessive bad bacteria can produce chemicals that damage good mental health. As the colony of bad bacteria increases, it sends inflammatory signals to the brain. It can cause inflammation in the area that affects mood and cause psychiatric disorders that include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Schizophrenia

The Science Behind Gut Health and Its Effects on Mental Health

Important neurotransmitters that are proven to affect mental health are present in the gut. Serotonin and Dopamine are hormones that help you feel better. Those who have a mental or psychiatric state show an imbalance in the colony of bacteria. Good bacteria are responsible for creating this feeling-good neurotransmitter.

What is Serotonin?

Serotonin is created naturally in the body and acts as a neurotransmitter that sends signals to the brain and other areas of your body. Most people associate serotonin with a positive mood, but this chemical also helps digestion among other functions.

About 90 percent of the body's serotonin receptors are located inside the gut. Imbalances in the microbiome can lead to a decrease in serotonin production, resulting in conditions such as depression or anxiety.

What is Dopamine?

Another neurotransmitter that can influence mood and other psychiatric issues is dopamine.  Some areas in the body produce this chemical compound, including the gastrointestinal tract. When you do fun activities, the body releases dopamine to trigger reward centers in your brain.

Again, the gut microbiome can dramatically affect how much dopamine is in your body. Too much or too little of this neurotransmitter has been linked to illnesses such as schizophrenia and ADHD.

Symptoms of Poor Gut Health

So how do you know if an unbalanced gut microbiome is causing your mental health problems? Those who suffer from poor gut health due to too many colonies of bad bacteria usually experience some of these symptoms.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Can stress cause stomach pain? Can stress cause constipation? Well, imbalances in the intestines can cause abdominal pain, heartburn, food intolerance, bloating, gas, constipation, and/or diarrhea. All of these things can also help cause a person to experience abdominal pain or constipation along with stress. So, can stress cause constipation and stomach pain? Yes. Just like constipation and stomach pain because the bad bacteria in the stomach can cause a person stress.


Good and bad bacteria tell the body when they need to eat. If you crave sweet foods, unhealthy bacteria can trigger the body's response to the foods they develop. These unhealthy foods often cause people to experience constipation and stomach pain if consumed too much. Since many people crave bad food when stressed, the fact that cravings for unhealthy foods can cause constipation and stomach pain suggests that the answer to stress can cause constipation and stomach pain is yes.

Weight changes

Accidental loss or weight gain can be caused by an imbalance of the gut microbiome. This happens because your body cannot make proper use of the food you eat. This can lead to malabsorption or increased appetite.

Many people lose or gain weight when stressed. If the gain or decrease in weight then causes an imbalance in the person's gut microbiome which then causes the person to have constipation and/or abdominal pain, the answer to stress causes constipation and stomach pain once again is yes.


Your body tells you when to be hungry and when to be full. When harmful bacteria take over, they produce signals that can lead to overeating because your body doesn't feel satisfied. Such overeating can cause a person to suffer from constipation and abdominal pain. Because many people overeat when stressed, the answer to stress can cause constipation and stomach pain is yes.

Sleep Disorders or Fatigue

Serotonin produced in the gut plays an important role in the body's ability to sleep well. Intestinal imbalances can lead to insomnia and chronic fatigue without enough of these neurotransmitters. Intestinal imbalances can also cause stress.

That doesn't help although people also often lose sleep when stressed. Thus, stress can cause constipation or abdominal pain.

Skin Condition

Unhealthy bacteria in the intestines can negatively affect the immune system, which can cause various skin rashes or acne.


Because gut health affects the body's immune response, you can develop allergies if your gut microbiome is out of balance.

Autoimmune disorders

Excess bad bacteria produce specific proteins that drive your risk of developing certain autoimmune conditions. Autoimmune disorders cause your body to attack healthy cells.

Here's What You Can Do to Improve Gut Health

Fortunately, your diet plays the biggest role in maintaining a healthy microbiome inside your gut, and this is something you control. There are additional steps you can take as well to improve your overall gut health.

Increase your fiber intake:

Fiber is an important food source for good bacteria. Since it takes a while for the fiber to decompose in the intestines, this gives the good bacteria time to develop. Good sources of fiber include whole grains, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Add probiotic foods and prebiotics to your diet:

Probiotics increase the number of good bacteria in the gut while prebiotics feeds these beneficial colonies. Try adding cultured yogurt, fermented foods, garlic, onions, and berries to your diet.

Drink plenty of water:

Unlike your body, bacteria cannot hold their own water, so drink enough to keep this colony, and yourself, fully hydrated.

Get enough sleep:

Adequate rest is essential for the proper functioning of your digestive tract as this is when your body does most of its healing. The digestive process slows down, allowing beneficial bacteria to do their job.

Exercise more:

While exercise is great for staying in shape, maintaining weight, and improving your mood, it also helps your gut. As your body moves with activity, it increases blood flow to all areas of the body, including the digestive tract. It helps to bring nutrients to the intestines and get rid of toxins.

Avoid this:

Because certain chemicals can destroy good bacteria, knowing what to avoid can improve gut health. Nicotine, caffeine, sugar, fats, preservatives, and processed foods can all negatively impact your digestive tract. Eating foods that are high in processed products is not good for gut health or overall well-being.

If your mental health care can use encouragement and you suspect an imbalance in your gut microbiome, help is available here at Montare Behavioral Health (BH). This is because we at Montare BH specialize in treating various mental health disorders. Contact us here at Montare Behavioral Health to learn more.

That’s the information about whether stress can cause constipation or stomach pain. And the answer to that question is yes! So you need to manage your stress level to stay healthy and balanced!

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