It’s no secret that many of our bodily sensations and experiences are directly linked to our mental health and how we are feeling emotionally. Much of our somatic counsellor Jasmine’s work with clients is based around learning to listen to the body and what it is telling you; learning to integrate both our physical and emotional sensations.
So, does stress cause acid reflux? The answer is yes! Reflux is one of the most common symptoms of stress and anxiety that shows up for people. Reflux is when acid from the stomach leaks up into the oesophagus causing a burning sensation (known as heartburn), regurgitation of food or sour liquids and sometimes upper abdominal or chest pain. The sphincter muscle is like a doorway between the stomach and the oesophagus, and sometimes it allows the acid to escape the stomach and into the oesophagus, causing the above symptoms.
For those who are experiencing prolonged stress or anxiety, your body can begin to produce more stomach acid, making it more likely to escape the stomach and into the oesophagus. In conjunction with the increased stomach acid, when you are experiencing anxiety, your oesophagus may have difficulty contracting food towards the stomach, increasing the likelihood of reflux. And finally, when we are experiencing stress, we are more likely to eat poorly, and consume too much alcohol and processed foods, which are some of the other major causes of reflux. Whilst there are many contributing factors to reflux which we won’t discuss today, it is well worth considering if stress is causing your reflux.
Is it possible that your reflux is stress related even if you don’t feel stressed? It is most certainly possible, as the link between stress and reflux is well founded. For many high-functioning individuals, they experience the physical sensations of stress and anxiety far sooner than they realise that they are stressed or anxious. If you are experiencing unexplained reflux, or you suspect stress may be contributing to it, it may be well worth chatting to a trusted doctor who is well experienced in addressing the link between physical and mental health, or a therapist who is versed in somatic processes.
If you think stress may be contributing to your reflux, there are some simple things you can do to help, such as eating smaller and more regular meals, cutting back on alcohol and sugar, not eating a large meal before laying down, and eating your final meal at least three hours before bedtime. Of course though, if the main cause of your reflux is stress or anxiety, that is what will need to be addressed in order to stop it.
At Knox Chiropractic & Wellness, we offer a free 15-minute phone call to discuss your needs and goals.
Please call us on 03 9800 5350 to arrange your chat with our somatic counsellor, Jasmine.