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How Anxiety Can Make You Gassy

Jenna Jarrold, MS, LAC, NCC
How Anxiety Can Make You Gassy

If you have anxiety, you likely experience a variety of difficult symptoms. Some common symptoms are feeling tense, nervousness, having racing thoughts, believing in worst case scenarios, and struggling with a rapid heartbeat.

Some people with anxiety also have symptoms that manifest physically, such as nausea and shakiness. Another physical symptom of anxiety (that is not often discussed) is gas problems.  Although it may seem strange, many people do experience gas (burping and flatulence) connected to their anxiety.  

Not only can anxiety cause gas problems and bloating - the gas problems themselves can lead to other symptoms that can actually increase anxiety. This can create a vicious cycle of anxiety and gassiness. While being gassy is generally nothing to worry about, recognizing the cause of the gas problems is important in terms of learning ways to intervene on the issue.

Anxiety and Gas

Different types of anxiety may contribute to different types of gas, or the extent that the gas affects you. While there may not be a concrete way to pinpoint the exact cause of the gas as it relates to one’s anxiety without medical tests, there are some common contributing factors. 

How Gas Can Cause Anxiety

While symptoms of anxiety (changes in breathing, stress on the gastrointestinal system) can cause gas, the opposite can be true as well, in that gas can cause anxiety - especially those already prone to it. 

Significant amounts of gas can cause physical pain, and if the person experiencing the gas is unable to pass that gas (often due to being around other people) anxiety can be induced. This can be a vicious cycle, with anxiety causing gas and gas contributing to increased anxiety. 

How to Reduce Anxiety-Related Gas

Once gas builds up in a person’s body, it needs to be released.  This means finding a place where this can be done comfortably through belching or flatulating. Once the gas is out, the symptoms of that gas (and the anxiety experienced as a result of that gas) should decrease.

Individuals whose gas is caused by digestion issues may benefit from eating healthier meals with fewer gas causing ingredients. Dairy, for example, often contributes to gas. Talking to your doctor about food intolerances and anti-gas medications is also an option. Additionally, it could be helpful to rule out gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or acid reflux, which can cause gas and other symptoms of anxiety. 

If gas is primarily due to hyperventilation and air swallowing, learning to slow one’s breathing could be helpful.  If you notice when the rate of breathing accelerates, try these techniques:

Other ways people have reported managing their anxiety-related gas include:

There are many possible factors contributing to anxiety-related gas. Address anything that could possibly be contributing to the gassiness. Also important is learning to manage the anxiety, as ultimately, this is the underlying cause and main contributing factor to many people’s gas and bloating.

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