anxiety and chronic diarrhea?

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Regular Member

Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 164
   Posted 10/8/2007 7:15 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello all!
I am not new to healingwell, but new to the anxiety board.  I was wanting to tell you my story to seeif any of you can relate or if any of you have some "words from the wise" for me.
Here is my story...
I am a 27 yr. old female.  I teach elementary school.  I was married in Dec. 2005 and moved about 15 miles away from my hometown. 
I am typically a "worry wart" and tend to worry about my health.  I have been this way ever since I was little...doctors make me nervous as do hospitals, etc. In fact, I think that I almost obsess over my health at times.  I know this is not normal, but I never feel "right", so I worry about what "I might have".  It's a neverending circle.  Moving on, in mid-March 2006, I had a bout of diarrhea.  It has NEVER went away.  It is a year & a half later and I still have this diarrhea. My stomach burns/aches, I have acid reflux, and my mouth feels like a dump. (grose I know, but it's the truth).  My hair is falling out by the handfulls also. 
I've been to Gastro specialists, doctors, etc.  All of them tell me that my tests are normal.  I have had a colonoscopy, EGD (where they look down your throat & stomach), barium x-rays, gallbladder tests, stool tests, blood tests, you name it, I've had it.  There is not 1 doctor that can tell me what is wrong with me and why I have diarrhea EVERYDAY.  It effects my appetite.  I am sad bacause I am not able to live my life as I once did and not 1 doctor can tell me what is causing all of these digestion problems.  I thought that maybe somebody here can relate to my story.  I find myself researching the internet, reading books, etc. about what I "might" have and then I just worry more because I start thinking "what if it's cancer and the Dr.'s just missedit...whatif I have a disease that the doctors didn't check for?  What if? What if"...."I hate the what ifs".  I just need some peace of mind. 
I guess what I'm asking is, has anybody else here had chronic diarrhea due to chronic worry/anxiety about health issues??  I feel like I am in a viscious circle that I cannot get out of. 
All advice/stories are VERY appreciated.  Thank you in advance!

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 10/8/2007 8:23 AM (GMT -6)   
Good Morning and welcome to the A & P forum.

RE your concern, chronic diarrhea refers in medical terms to repeated bouts of diarrhea over a prolonged period, rather than the common usage of "chronic diarrhea" to mean severe diarrhea. Yes diarrhea may be caused by anxiety.

Have you seen a therapist to help you with your anxiety and your health anxiety problems in particular? I would guess you have already thought of allergies to foods and spoken with a nutrionist re any food allergies that may be the culprit of the diarrhea.

I understand your anxiety, I think we all would like to find a physical problem for our anxiety and have a Doctor just fix us, but so far I have not come up with a medical condition so like you I have to face the anxiety and the physical symptoms it causes through other methods.

I hope you have a therapist and please keep posting, we are here for you. Gentle Hugs

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 63
   Posted 10/8/2007 10:30 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi shelly,let me start by saying that i too have chronic diahrrea.i have had my gallbladder  removed 2 years ago so not really sure if that has anything to do with it or not.anyway i can totally relate to the health anxiety thing! i have so many physical symptoms that is dr.tells me if i would quit worrying about something being wrong with me i would be better off! eyes well thats easier said than done when u have all these feelings in ur body and you try to tell urself its anxiety but then the what ifs come in!!its very upsetting when u think the doc is missing something or that he is tired of seeing you sad anyway sorry for the rant i guess i said all that to say,anxiety really can cause us to be a mess physcially. we have to accept it and tell ourself thats what it is and try to get better.sorry i wasnt more help to you but maybe in some way i did a little.                           ps. sorry for not using any caps but my computer has a mind of its own ,when i shift to caps it shuts down eyes
This too shall pass!! Take care,Dottie :)                                                                  

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 149
   Posted 10/8/2007 12:27 PM (GMT -6)   
Shelly, before I was ever diagnosed with Anxiety and panic when I was a teen I used to always have diarrhea and treated it as a medical problem. In hindsight I suspect the diarrhea was always caused by my yet to be diagnosed anxiety probs because other than when I have had the flu I do not think I have had a single instance of diarrhea since then. I would suggest that you join a CBT group if you can and or read some books on it and start doing the thought exercises like the TEA forms from the book by Sam Obitz. If you do the thought countering exercises you will begin to reduce your anxiety and I suspect your diarrhea will eventually go away.

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 164
   Posted 10/8/2007 1:51 PM (GMT -6)   

Thanks for the advice...may I ask, what is CBT??


Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 322
   Posted 10/8/2007 4:36 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi shelly!

Here is the dry version. But very informative.

Anxiety and Panic Disorder.

"Breathe! You Are Alive"
- Thich Nhat Hanh

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 149
   Posted 10/11/2007 10:58 AM (GMT -6)   
CBT teaches you how to help yourself get better by identifying the thinking errors that cause anxiety and then correcting them and thus eliminating the anxiety. It is considered the most clinically proven treatment for Anxiety, Panic and OCD.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 1193
   Posted 10/12/2007 7:56 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Shelly,

I am so sorry that you have to deal with problem on top of everything else; it just seems to make things worse. I hope it gets better for you very soon.

I too have chronic diarrhea, but it's not from anxiety over my health. I tend to not worry about my health too much, it is what is and there isn't anything I can do about the problems except take the meds and follow my doctors advice/orders (yes, sometimes she actually ORDERS me to do something because she knows that I can be very stubborn sometimes-LOL-). To my knowledge, there are no cures for anything that I have and nothing is life-threatening as long as I do what I'm supposed (i.e. having my esophagus scoped at least once a year to make sure there are no cancerous cells).

Unfortunately my diarrhea appears to be from all the meds I'm on. Almost all of them have a side effect of diarrhea. I have to take an anti-diarrheal medication (over the counter stuff) to keep it under control. If I don't I will have to run to the bathroom within 5 minutes of eating because it will go through me that quickly. So I always have the anti-diarrheal med with me. Guess there's not much else I can do about it. As someone else said, I had my gall bladder taken out about a year ago, so I don't know if that has anything to do with it.

Let us know how you are doing.

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 187
   Posted 10/12/2007 2:06 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Shelly,
I too suffer from seemingly constant diarrhea and anxiety. Until last year, I thought they were solely related. I also had every test in the book from my gastroenterologist: colonoscopy, EGD, scopes, blood tests, etc. Finally, my allergist tested me for food allergies (because I also have tons of seasonal allergies) and it turns out I am allergic to wheat, egss, shellfish, corn, and sulfites. WOW! When I stay away from all of those things, I feel much better, my diarrhea is less and even my anxiety seems to decrease. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to stay away from all of those things...and some prompt more severe reactions than others. Shellfish and eggs make my throat close up and I can't swallow, but wheat just upsets my stomach. Bottom line....I still need Effexor/Xanax to cope, but my diet has ALOT to do with how I am feeling, too. IMO, It is worth the check in with an allergist.

Good Luck!
New Bipolar Supporter

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 64
   Posted 10/14/2007 6:39 AM (GMT -6)   
Don't feel bad about the "runs". I "run" to the bathroom all the time. (I'm talking about 10 to 12 hours a day) No1 knows why I go like this. It's not food or stress. I've tried not eating or drinking this & that. I've tried Medication. I'm at my wits end. I think I'm plain ready for "the Bag". Good luck every1.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 149
   Posted 11/9/2007 12:17 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Shelly I hope you have found some relief and are feeling better now :-)

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 6/25/2008 10:45 AM (GMT -6)   
hi shelly,

i want to tell u that i was also in ur condition almost 7 ys also m having that though not in a severe stage.first of all, i ll tell u that its bcoz of ur mental stress that ur experiencing most of ur pains and burns in stomach.the symptoms appeared in me when i was in 12th std. i was not well in mathematics and it made me so anxious about my that time one day i had chicken and the next day i got diarrhea.after i week i was ok.but after that usually i think abt diarrhea and again it satrted.this time it got worst n at this stage i thought i cant continue my studies.the diarrhea continued for 4 months and in between every doctors said that i havent any problem.then wat else .that was the question.every time i take food i think abt diarrhea n it caused me to go to bathroom everytime i became a burden for me.i had barrium xrays, colonoscopy,stool tests ,blood tests etc.there wasnt any problem .the doctors came to the conclusion that i have IBS.they prescribed me anti- spasmodic anti-secretory tablets 2 per day.i continued it for 5 that time i was ok.i was returning to normal life slowly.i kept myself away from mathematics n took arts n lit.for my graduation n post graduation.when exam comes i stiil had diarrhea n slowly i understood that its nothing but my anxiety and stress ,the reason for it.i started experimenting with homeopathy.m sure homeopathy can do a lot better in such cases.moreover it doesnt have any side effects.i had been strictly a vegeterian for 3 ys n i lost weight n my weight came down upto 37kgs,when i was last i started taking homeo medicines when i feel stressed n anxious(this happens mostly when i had exams etc).now my problem is that i m in US now,far away from my home .i was a teacher.nw married n came to m experiencing the same in ur u said m also very conscious abt my health n m a little bit worried of being away from my sometimes when i feel anxious or worried it happens again.i have the medicines with me n so i feel ok.meditation will help u a lot to overcome this and more important is keep urself engagaed in something in which u can concentrate the help of homeopathy n get relief from stress.include yogurt in ur daily food...ok...thats from me....enjoy life...keep urself busy....keep smiling.....all the best.....

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 1011
   Posted 6/25/2008 11:05 AM (GMT -6)   
I get it from time to time and it may last a few days, but then I'll be fine for a few weeks or a couple of months, so I don't consider it chronic. It is defintiely related to my anxiety level and what I eat. Did you get tested for a gluton allergy? Someone's mom I worked with had it and she had constant diahrea before they figured it out.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 45
   Posted 6/26/2008 2:58 AM (GMT -6)   
Shelly, did they check the functioning of your adrenal and thyroid glands?

This sounds so miserable. I get diarrhea from anxiety, for sure, and also from fish and dairy and oily foods. Boy, it can be so miserable, although, I am able to see the humor in some of the incidents....

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 416
   Posted 6/26/2008 9:05 AM (GMT -6)   
Hey girl,
I feel ya! I too am a major whatifer. And I too have severe digestive tract problems. And my MD cant find anything wrong. I have been diagnosed with acid reflux and IBS. But I think all of my symptoms may be caused by anxiety. Although my symptoms started before the anxiety, they kind of set of the anxiety. But I understand where you are. I can say that the only thing that helps my symptoms is tons of praying and tons of meds. When my anxiety levels are low my symptoms seem lower. But also if I get a symptom like stomach pain I freak out because I think "OMG I'm gonna get sick and not be able to work or take care of my two year old, and I hate being sick!" It's awful. Is that how you feel? I hope someone comes along with some good advice for both of us. Just wanted to let you know you are not alone! Try and have a great day! Love and Hugs!
"There is hope for every man, a solid place where we can stand, in this dry in weary land, there is hope for every man... Jesus is hope for every man"  -Casting Crowns

Elite Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 6/26/2008 12:33 PM (GMT -6)   
My anxiety WILl start my crohns to go into flare.......and
It does cause major D for many a/p'ers as
I have read on this forum in my yrs here

Try immodium or something to help with it

Let us know how you make out
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