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Stress Gastritis: A Digestive Issue Caused by Emotions

Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen · Dietetics and Nutrition

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Sep 27, 2023

Stress Gastritis: A Digestive Issue Caused by Emotions

We often use the phrase ‘butterflies in the stomach’. But did you know emotions and digestive health are actually interconnected? Well, strong emotions like anxiety, stress can cause stomach issues and vice versa. This is because our digestive system is sensitive to emotions. Emotions like anger, stress, anxiety can trigger symptoms in your stomach. There are a lot of stomach ailments that cause severe uneasiness and emotional or stress gastritis can be a tough one to deal with.

Understanding Stress Gastritis

Stress Gastritis

To begin with, let us understand what gastritis is. Gastritis is a condition in which the lining of your stomach is inflamed and irritated. Excess consumption of alcohol, certain medications including painkillers, nausea, and stomach infections are the risk factors of gastritis.

It is a harmful condition and if left untreated can cause severe side effects including stomach cancer. Infection caused by bacteria H. pylori is one of the major causes of gastritis. The condition, when triggered by emotions, is called emotional gastritis or stress-induced gastritis.

Unlike other types of gastritis that are caused by infections or bad lifestyle habits, stress gastritis or emotional gastritis is triggered merely because of emotions. Emotions like anxiety, stress, sadness if ignored for a long time turn chronic and can cause serious health issues and one of them is gastritis.

If emotional stress is controlled properly, the symptoms of the health condition gradually reduce. In some cases, treatment to manage both emotional stress and health condition is important.

Symptoms of Stress Gastritis

As a person’s stress level rises, the levels of stress hormones like cortisol also increase in their bloodstream. These hormones further increase gastric acid. This increase in the levels of cortisol and gastric acid lowers the body’s ability to repair inflamed and damaged tissues.

Consuming a healthy meal in small portions at regular intervals can help to prevent excess stress on the digestive system.

The common symptoms you may face include:

Stomach pain

Stomach pain is one of the important symptoms of gastritis.

However, in cases of stress, the pain can be severe. People with emotional or stress gastritis describe stomach pain as the pain caused by any other stomach ailment but a severe one.

Even though the pain has nothing to do with the food you intake, monitoring your food habits can help to prevent stomach pain. You can even maintain a food journal that will help you to understand your triggers.

Stress Gastritis

Loss of appetite

Your appetite is strongly affected by emotional gastritis. The inflammation can result in damaging and losing some of the protective cells in your stomach lining.

This can result in the loss of appetite or a feeling of fullness even after consuming a small portion of food. This further results in sudden weight loss and the development of other medical conditions.

Treatment of stress gastritis

Stress-induced gastritis is mainly caused by strong emotions. The treatment comprises a combination of diet, lifestyle changes, and medications.

Dietary changes

Even simple changes in your diet can help to prevent the symptoms of stress-induced gastritis.

Your diet plays an important role in maintaining not just your digestive health but also your overall health. Some foods and drinks can make your gastritis symptoms worse.

Hence, it is important to avoid certain foods and drinks to prevent the condition from worsening. If you have gastritis, it is important to avoid acidic foods such as tomatoes and foods that are spicy, fried, and loaded with fats.

Avoid the consumption of foods that cause allergic reactions. Some of the drinks to avoid include carbonated, caffeinated, and alcoholic drinks. Increase your intake of high-fiber and low-fat foods.

Medications to manage stress gastritis

Even though the condition is stress-induced, the symptoms can be controlled to some extent with the help of medications. Your doctor may prescribe proton pump inhibitors that work by hindering the functioning of the cells that produce acid. These medications are usually prescribed for a short duration as excess consumption of proton pump inhibitors can increase the risk of bone fractures.

Other medications your doctor may prescribe include acid blockers. These medications work by cutting down the amount of acid released in your digestive system. In some cases, antacids are also recommended by doctors to neutralise the acid in your stomach.

Even while taking the medications, make sure that they are accompanied by other treatments. These medications are only effective to prevent and reduce the symptoms, to heal the condition completely it is important to manage your emotions.

Do you have digestive troubles? Try our Gastrointestinal Health Screener:

Manage your emotions to prevent symptoms of stress gastritis

Managing your emotions is one of the important treatment options. The main culprit of emotional gastritis are emotions. Hence, the only way to manage the symptoms and prevent the condition is by managing your emotions in a proper way. It is important to get rid of negative emotions. For the same, you can take the help of a number of treatment options like meditation, yoga, relaxation techniques, etc.

You must monitor your stress; even everyday stress can lead to severe stomach issues. It is important to identify the source of stress and work on the ways to manage it.

To manage your stress, you can also take the help of counselling and therapy.

Some of the simple stress management tips you may follow in your everyday life are:

  • Learn to say ‘no’. If you have work-related stress and you are overburdened with work that is difficult to manage, learn to say ‘no’. In such cases, talk to your manager and come to a conclusion that is practical and convenient at the same time.
  • You can even try maintaining a journal and make it a habit to write about things that make you happy and things that make you stressed. Once you are aware of the source of the stress, take steps to manage them. Also, do more things that make you happy.
  • Avoid stressing on things that cannot be controlled. Instead, react to issues in a positive manner. Similarly, instead of stressing over gastritis and the symptoms you experience, think about the ways you can manage them.

Learn more about Gastritis Management here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Expertly reviewed by

Chris Icamen

Dietetics and Nutrition

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Sep 27, 2023

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