Abdominal pain can be a struggle, and unfortunately it can be hard to diagnose the source of your discomfort. But if you're seen a doctor and there does not appear to be a medical cause, there is a strong chance that you could be suffering from anxiety.
In this article, we'll explore the causes of abdominal pain, along with ideas for how to decrease the extent of this pain.
Is Anxiety Causing Ab Pain?
When your abs feel like they're hurting or uncomfortable often, it could be the result of anxiety. Our free 7 minute anxiety test will score your anxiety symptoms, compare it to others, and help you see what treatments are available. Make sure to start the test if you haven't yet.
Causes of Abdominal Discomfort From Anxiety
Abdominal discomfort has many different definitions. In some cases, it's a literal pain it the ab muscles. In others, you may be talking about stomach pains that happen to feel like they're occurring in the abs.
No abdominal pain can be caused by anxiety if you don't suffer from anxiety, so make sure you take my free 7 minute anxiety test. It'll compare your symptoms to others with anxiety, tell you their severity, and give you more information on your anxiety disorder.
There are several issues that may lead to abdominal pain, but you should note that this is not an exhaustive list. The gut and abdomen are highly affected by stress and anxiety, so there are countless potential causes of discomfort. They include:
- Muscle Tension When stressed, the body's muscles contract. That can cause significant muscle tension, and one of the areas of the body that is very likely to receive that muscle tension is the abdomen. Muscle tension can cause a great deal of physical pain, cramping, and other discomfort, and can tire muscles in a way that makes them more prone to very small amounts of painful damage.
- Adjustments Similarly, because of that muscle tension (or because of the way that you sit/stand when you have anxiety), it's not uncommon for those with anxiety to adjust their posture in a way that is unnatural. Over time, that posture change can cause the muscles in your trunk to cramp up or experience pain.
- Bloating and Stomach Pains Anxiety also commonly leads to a variety of stomach and intestinal health issues. This can lead to gas, bloating, indigestion, and several other issues that can cause immense stomach and abdominal discomfort, and may lead to all types of different pains that plague you daily.
These are just a few examples of how anxiety and stress can lead to abdominal pain. Anxiety dramatically affects your body, and over time there are several issues that can lead to various shooting and non-shooting pains in the abdomen.
Hypersensitivity to Abdominal Discomfort
Another similar issue that is very common in those with anxiety is hypersensitivity. This is when the mind becomes "over-sensitive" to the way their body feels. A person with hypersensitivity notices every single change in the way their body feels, and can't help but focus on them to the point where they'll start to feel more severe than they may be.
Many people experience mild stomach discomfort regularly for no reason at all. But those with hypersensitivity are more likely to find it distressing. Since anxiety causes hypersensitivity in many people, that can make it appear that anxiety is "causing" stomach issues that would otherwise be ignored in those without anxiety.
How to Overcome Abdominal Pain from Anxiety
If you're concerned about your abdominal pain, especially if it is significantly disabling or doesn't appear to let up even when your anxiety has gone away, it never hurts to see a doctor. Only a doctor can diagnose the cause of your pains and discomforts.
There are some strategies you can use to try to overcome this pain. They include:
- Stretching Even though anxiety may be contributing to your muscle tension, the tension is still tension like any other. Stretching is a good way to relieve this tension and make sure that you're not over-straining your muscles in a way that will cause pain or discomfort.
- Healthy Eating While healthy eating can't prevent all indigestion and discomfort, it can prevent some of it. That's why it's valuable to make sure that you've changed your diet to one that is less prone to causing indigestion. Healthy eating, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, does make an impact on stomach pain.
- Exercise Exercise may create pain at first, but over time it will make it easier for your muscles to overcome pain and discomfort. In addition, exercise is a very powerful anxiety reduction tool, so exercise could have added benefits for helping you overcome your anxiety issues.
Of course, the best way to stop your abdominal pain is to stop your anxiety.
I've worked with thousands of people with abdominal pain, which is why I encourage you to take my free 7 minute anxiety test now. The test is an extremely useful tool for understanding your anxiety more and getting recommended treatment options.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.