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Can anxiety cause constipation?

Is it true that being stressed out can interfere with your pooping? It seems strange, but I've noticed that at the worst times in my life, things get even worse because I become constipated. If this is true, how can I avoid it? I'd rather not have to pop laxatives every time my work gets busy.
Stress is a very common cause of constipation. Stress affects the body in many different ways, including activating the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response). Certain body types will react to stress by decreasing the movement of the bowels (peristalsis). In stressful situations, people sometimes will eat unhealthy diets, decrease the amount of exercise they perform, and drinking less water, which are all very common causes for constipation. Aside from taking laxatives when you are stressed, consider taking long walks, deep breathing, meditation, taking a break, exercising and massage therapy. These are safe and healthy forms of stress management, and will also likely improve your constipation. Other inciting causes for constipation to be aware of include certain medications, dehydration, and diet related concerns. To prevent constipation, evaluate your diet and if necessary, consider increasing the amount of fiber in your diet via leafy greens and fruits and vegetables high in fiber, and decrease your intake of cheeses, high fat foods, and simple sugars. If these measures do not improve your constipation, or your symptoms persist or worsen, it is advisable that you visit your primary care physician because there may be other underlying causes for constipation that should be evaluated by a professional.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.

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