ANXIETY IN THE BODY: CONSTIPATION

We have noted that the main reaction of the body to anxiety is one of preparation for action—the increased output of the heart, the diversion of blood to the muscles, and the liberation of glucose into the blood to provide extra energy. Of course any movement of the bowels would hamper this preparation for physical activity, so the normal response of the body to anxiety includes a dampening down of movement of the bowels. In this way a mild anxiety reaction extending over a long period may lead to chronic constipation.

A professional man in his early fifties started the relaxing mental exercises on account of mild general tension, without thought as to any possible effect on his bowel action.

He had been constipated all his life, and for the last thirty years had been given to relieving his constipation with suppositories and enemas.
After a few months, with the reduction of the general level of his anxiety, he found that he had established a perfectly normal bowel action, without physical straining, for the first time in his life.

The reduction of general anxiety undoubtedly helped by allowing the normal mobility of the bowel. But the patient himself lay stress on his being relaxed when actually at the toilet.

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