Stress-related symptoms felt in the gastrointestinal tract vary greatly from one person to the next, and treatment can vary as well. For example, one person with gastroesophageal reflux disease might have an occasional, mild burning sensation in the chest, while another experiences excruciating discomfort night after night. As the severity of symptoms varies, so should the therapies, medications, self-help strategies, or even surgeries used to relieve them. Please consult a health practitioner before embarking upon any protocol.
Many people have mild symptoms that respond quickly to changes in diet or medications. If symptoms do not improve, a clinician may ask more questions about your medical history and perform some diagnostic tests to rule out an underlying cause. For some people, symptoms improve as soon as a serious diagnosis, like cancer, has been ruled out. That is how strong the emotions can play a role in our health. A doctor may also recommend symptom-specific medications. Sometimes treating the symptoms are not enough. As symptoms become more severe, so does the likelihood that you are experiencing some sort of psychological distress.
Often, people with moderate to severe symptoms, particularly those whose symptoms arise from stressful circumstances, can benefit from mind directed therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques. Some people are reluctant to accept the role of psycho-social factors in their illness. It's important to know that emotions cause genuine chemical and physical responses in the body that can result in pain and discomfort. Behavioral therapy and stress reduction treatments help manage pain and improve other symptoms in ways that are different from how drugs act. The goal of all therapies is to reduce anxiety, encourage healthy behaviors, and help people cope with the pain and discomfort of their condition.
Engaging in mindfulness base exercise like yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, and walking with intention can be a big help too. Dancing provides lots of feel good hormones. Playing with kids can bring back joy, humor, and connection to one's youthful and carefree memories.
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