Does Stress Cause Constipation?

Updated September 04, 2018

Stress is a powerful feeling that is brought on by many influences in life. Whether it is good stress or bad stress, expected or unexpected, chronic or situational, every kind of stress will have an impact on the affected person. Stress will cause many symptoms like anxiety, frustration, fatigue, and a weakened immune system. It is a powerful force in life that has the potential to have many physical consequences, including constipation.


'Constipation' is a term used when a person struggles with stiff bowel movements. Being constipated is uncomfortable, and can cause pain, discomfort, and a strain on a person's day-to-day life. Constipation can prevent a person from being able to perform activities. It can even cause him or her to become frustrated or depressed, as they feel helpless to pass a bowel movement and feel better.

How Stress Causes Constipation

There are several reasons why stress can cause constipation. For example, when a person is stressed, he or she may be distracted from taking care of himself or herself. This may cause him or her to have dietary and physical health changes, like:

  • Drinking less water
  • Skipping meals
  • Overeating
  • Eating unhealthy foods
  • Not exercising

Stress also causes anxiety, which causes physical symptoms, like:

  • Muscle tension
  • Indigestion
  • Acid reflux
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Stomachaches


These changes can cause constipation because they are shock to the system. The changes put the body into dysregulation. These cause the body to work extra hard to make up for the fast and unexpected changes. The changes deprive the body of what is needed for regular bowel movements - like healthy diet, exercise, hydration, and a healthy stomach and digestive tract.

How To Prevent Constipation Caused By Anxiety

Suffering from constipation is painful, uncomfortable and embarrassing. Fortunately, there are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce the prevalence of constipation you experience. Changes to your physical and mental health and wellness can help dramatically in reducing constipation caused by stress.

Physical Health

There are several changes that can be made to improve physical health and reduce constipation. With changes in diet and exercise, you will reduce the rate and severity in which you experience constipation caused by stress. Consider making the following changes to reduce constipation:

Dietary Changes

  • Drink more water. Dehydration worsens constipation. Make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day to help reduce constipation.
  • Eat more fiber. Fiber helps stimulate bowel movements.
  • Reduce amount of caffeine consumed. Caffeine wreaks havoc on the stress levels in a person. They tend to make anxiety more severe. It also causes constipation. 1-2 cups per day will stimulate the digestive tract, making it more likely to have a bowel movement. But, having too much caffeine will cause you to become constipated.


Exercise. It is important to maintain an exercise regiment. Exercise will not only regulate your bowel movements, but it will also help with stress management by burning nervous energy. Be sure to get at least 30 minutes of consistent cardio exercise 5-7 days a week.

Mental Health

It is also important to have good stress management skills to prevent constipation. Along with diet and exercise, consider incorporating meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation exercises, which will improve mental health, into your daily routine. If you feel you need assistance in learning stress management skills, consider consulting a mental health professional, who will be able to teach you strategies to improve overall mental health and wellness.


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