Hi. It’s Jenny at AnxietyBoss.com. Our question today comes to us from Darla in Bangor, Maine. Can anxiety and depression cause constipation?
Yes. It can, but if you are experiencing constipation repeatedly, you should see your physician. There are many physical symptoms which can be accounted for or worsened by anxiety, but this needs to be determined by a medical professional.
We are all wired with what is called the “flight-fight-freeze” system. If there is a threat to our survival or something in our environment or our thoughts which we believe is a threat to our survival, we will experience dilated pupils, dry mouth, sweating, flushed or pale skin, a rapid heartrate, elevated blood pressure, hyperventilating, muscle tension, including tightness and discomfort in the chest and stomach, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, and the urge to either withdraw from a threat, engage the threat, or we may lock up and be unable to move with anxiety.
Your body may be in a low-level state of flight-fight-freeze constantly, even when sleeping. Part of this response is digestive processes come to a halt. Elimination of waste is part of our digestive process, and under stress, these processes become secondary. This could mean diarrhea, which is not unusual to experience with anxiety or constipation.
Anxiety and depression can also reduce appetite. And if you don’t have enough food going in, you’re not going to need to eliminate as frequently.