People usually get nervous and experience a similar feeling of cramping in their stomach when they go on stage to give a speech or enter the field to play a championship game. Stress and anxiety also have symptoms such as nausea, painful bloating, constipation and diarrhea. This phenomenon is known as “nervous stomach pain”. And the question is, what is the exact cause of its occurrence?
By the way Melissa Hunt, clinical psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, neuropathic pain occurs because of the close connection between the nervous system and the digestive system. He adds: “The human brain, spinal cord and digestive system are connected to each other from the earliest stages of embryonic development. “Millions of neurons send information from the gut to the brain, and the same number of neurons send signals back to the gut.” This is often associated with the name Brain-gut axis Is known.
The neurons or nerve cells that line the digestive tract make up the enteric nervous system. They are part of the autonomic nervous system that regulates involuntary body functions such as breathing, heart rate, and digestion. After food enters the intestine, enteric neurons cause muscle cells to contract and Pressurize food in the intestines.
The autonomic nervous system is divided into two categories: “parasympathetic” and “sympathetic”. Also known as “rest and digest” and “fight or flight” systems, these systems balance each other. In general, the parasympathetic nervous system calms the body; While the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for strengthening the body’s response to danger.
“Digestion is controlled by the parasympathetic branch,” says Hunt. “When we are stressed, the sympathetic branch is activated and suppresses the function of the parasympathetic system.” In such a situation, our body releases stress-related hormones (such as cortisol) that suppress the digestion process in the small intestine and stomach. Meanwhile, other hormones are also busy stimulating the colon.
According to Hunt, in stressful situations, instead of being in a gentle state of rest and digestion, our stomach and intestines may suddenly go into a state of spasm, which occurs when the body prepares for fight or flight. On the other hand, just as stress can trigger nervous stomach pain, frequent gastrointestinal (GI) problems can also lead to stress in people.
Stress also increases the frequency or severity of symptoms of brain-gut interaction disorders (DGBIs). These disorders include conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is characterized by symptoms such as abdominal pain, unexplained diarrhea or constipation, functional indigestion, and unexplained stomach pains during or after eating.
Brain-gut interaction disorders are thought to be characterized by persistent disturbances in the communication between the gut and the brain. According to Hunt, people may become hypervigilant and concerned about their GI symptoms over time. This issue leads to excessive visceral sensitivity (related to internal organs) in people, which ultimately leads to the creation of a negative feedback cycle of anxiety arousal. Arousal of anxiety means a state in which any uncomfortable feelings in our body become a disaster after strengthening, and as our anxiety level increases, it leads to digestive system discomfort.