Anxiety and the Gut

by Sherry Scheideman, MA, Registered Clinical Counsellor.

There is a big link between anxiety and the gut.

I know this from personal experience – I have celiac disease (in which the gut is damaged by eating many of the most common foods in the Western diet) and as a result, I’ve experienced a great deal of anxiety. This has motivated me to learn about the connection between anxiety and the gut – and how to heal them both.

When the gut is irritated or damaged, it sends distress messages throughout the body, which we experience as anxiety. A distressed gut can even cause us to have upsetting thoughts. The gut tells the brain that it is upset, and the brain translates this message into thoughts like, “I can’t handle this,” or “I’m not good enough,” or “Something is going to go wrong,” and so on. We take these thoughts personally, worrying that we’re inadequate or a failure, that we can’t live up to expectations, or that some kind of disaster is going to happen to us. This is anxiety.

If we listen to these thoughts as the voice of the gut, however, we can see that the gut is simply telling us that it is having difficulty and needs some special care and attention. When we hear the gut’s message without taking it personally, we can simply tend to the needs of the gut. The gut might be saying, “I can’t handle this – I’m not good enough – Something is going to go wrong” because it is being poisoned by some kind of food it can’t tolerate. We need to pay attention, figure out what is hurting the gut, eliminate it from our diet, and then stick to that diet to protect the gut. This will calm the gut – and our anxiety.

Even after we eliminate the things that the gut can’t deal with, the gut may need time and attention to truly heal. The gut may be so accustomed to feeling uneasy and to sending out ignored messages that it keeps on doing it, like a habit. This can make us anxious, even after we’ve made the necessary dietary adjustments.

Similarly, the habit of being anxious may have become hard-wired, so it may persist even when your gut is healing.

Come and get some counselling to address your anxiety. I can recommend a good naturopath to help you with your gut.

Anxiety and the gut are linked – it makes sense to heal them together.

Let’s do it!

by Sherry Scheideman, MA, Registered Clinical Counsellor, Victoria BC.

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