Acid Reflux And Anxiety: 19 Proven Facts To Feel Better

There are many millions of people who suffer from heartburn and acid reflux.

Unfortunately, many of them also suffer from anxiety, as well as other psychological and mood problems.

This is a concerning fact, especially because of the deep connection between mind and body that still is to be understood in its full complexity.

In some cases, psychological issues determine a disease, while, on the other hand, the presence of a disease aggravates the psychological situation.

It’s a vicious circle difficult to escape.

When it comes to acid reflux, things are not so different.

That’s why we want to deepen more about the special relationship between acid reflux and anxiety.

We know that there is a proven connection between heartburn and anxiety. In fact, the typical sensation reported by heartburn sufferers determines, in many cases, a feeling of worry that often turns into real anxiety.

The point we need to understand is whether heartburn can cause anxiety and vice versa.

Both of these possibilities have important consequences for the treatment and for the improvement (or worsening) of quality of life.

So, let’s dive deeper into the topic.

Acid Reflux And Anxiety

Acid Reflux And Anxiety: Learning Body-Mind Connections

Anxiety is defined as “the natural response to stress”, and depending on the duration, it may become a true anxiety disorder.

This happens when anxiety lasts for several months, and, more important, it impairs the normal quality of life.

This is the most important reason to wonder if anxiety could be included in the list of ascertained causes of acid reflux.

Talking about trends, we can say that both of these conditions are always more frequent, that’s why is important to investigate any possible relationship between them.

According to some studies, anxiety and depression may play an important role in the occurrence of GERD.

This evidence is even more relevant for people who suffer from NERD, meaning that they do not have esophageal erosion.

The table below is taken directly from the official study and presents the perceived level of anxiety among people who suffer from heartburn and reflux.

A more recent study (2018) reported that anxiety and depression levels were significantly higher in subjects with GERD (especially NERD) than in healthy people.

This is a further confirmation of what was found before.

However, there’a consideration to add.

Anxiety effect on people who suffer from reflux has nothing to do with the acid and/or the burning sensation in the esophagus.

Heartburn And Anxiety

There are several other studies that present more close relationships between anxiety and a specific symptom of acid reflux, not the disease as a whole.

This symptom is the most common in cases of reflux, namely heartburn.

It has been observed that people who suffer from anxiety also report frequently the following symptoms:

  • Heartburn
  • Upper abdominal pain

This probably because anxiety has the effect of increasing the sensitivity to pain and other symptoms of GERD.

Even if the debate on whether the anxiety can be considered a cause for acid reflux still is open, there’s a fact.

People who suffer from anxiety, as well as many other psychological conditions, feel more intense symptoms of reflux, including heartburn.

This is extremely important because it means that when these two conditions are present together the affected person has more difficulty in controlling the symptoms.

That’s why the treatment absolutely did not have to target symptoms only.

A more complete, holistic and strategic approach is necessary.

Can Acid Reflux Cause Anxiety?

Acid reflux can for sure ignite a vicious circle that increases anxiety levels, and this makes symptoms more likely to be felt.

As we’re going to disclose in the following section, the relationship between acid reflux and anxiety (as well as any other psychological issue) is often more complicated than it might seem.

Moreover, there are some “surprising facts” to consider.

For now, we have to remember that a connection between acid reflux and anxiety exists.

However, mental factors, like anxiety and depression, play important roles in the development of NERD (Non-Erosive form of reflux).

This is a clear demonstration hat the acidity does not have a key role in the condition.

Before considering what are the relationships between real GERD and anxiety, we want to spend a few words on persistent heartburn.

It has been noted that the presence of persistent reflux symptoms, with constant heartburn on top of all, is very likely to cause mental health disorders, sleep disorders, and psychological distress.

Can GERD cause anxiety?

People with GERD and anxiety often report more symptoms than other people.

With more details, there are similar symptoms, but they are perceived as more intense.

This is mainly due to anxiety (and depression, if present).

In fact, it has been noted that nearly half of the patients who reported having anxiety and depression had normal pH values in their esophagus.

Considering that this pH value is considered as a good indicator of the disease (even though we know that acidity is not the main factor), there is something to note carefully.

According to Dr. Herbella, a gastroenterologist at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, patients with anxiety and depression or other mental health issues display a ‘hypervigilance’ or ‘hypersensitivity’ to pain sensations. This is the reason for more perceived symptoms of reflux.

To summarize: the more anxious the patient is, the less damaged its esophageal lining.

This discovery is a real surprise because it shows that the relationship between anxiety and reflux disease is probably much more complex than it may have seemed to date.

In addition, this also opens the discussion to many considerations on another complex relationship, the one between GERD and depression.

Acid reflux anxiety and heart palpitations

This is a fairly common situation and certainly, these are very worrying episodes for those who suffer them.

In some cases, they are true panic attacks.

But there’s more: in fact, according to the American Heart Association, panic attacks can also be the only ones responsible for chest pain, another typical symptom of acid reflux.

This might make things more complicated.

This because a person can have both anxiety-related heartburn, and GERD-related heartburn together.

There is evidence that anxiety (as well as depression) are associated with increased severity of retrosternal pain and heartburn.

This leads to a significant impairment of the quality of life

Given that, we can better understand why the best remedies for people who suffer from these conditions is a more comprehensive approach, that works on both reflux and anxiety as well.

This has not to be done with drugs, but with natural elements that make everything safer and more lasting over time.

Such an approach will help you get rid of symptoms, that may be very serious, as we’re going to discover in the following section.

Acid reflux and anxiety symptoms

Talking about symptoms, there are some common manifestations of anxiety, when it is found together with the acid reflux.

We believe that’s important to spend words about them, because of two main reasons:

  • When anxiety and reflux are present together, you feel more intense symptoms, starting from heartburn
  • Heartburn can also be a result of anxiety alone, that’s why you must know what your condition really is

One of the first symptoms to remember is hyperventilation.

This is very common for people who suffer from anxiety, and in some cases, it also causes chest pain that’s very similar to heartburn.

When it happens, however, the reason is muscle tension. The final result might be hard to distinguish from heartburn, though.

More than hyperventilation, anxiety generally causes the following.

Symptoms Of Chronic Reflux
This is the best manifestation of the vicious circle made of reflux and anxiety. In fact, people who suffer from reflux are more likely to fee intense heartburn when anxiety is present. Moreover, the intensity of heartburn is increased, in such cases.
Increased Abdominal Pressure
People with anxiety have a higher level of muscle tension, and this leads to an increased abdominal pressure in many cases. Such an increase can cause stomach content to push up against the LES. The final effect may be an improper closure of the lower esophageal sphincter, so that reflux is much easier to occur.
The Role Of Prostaglandins
People who suffer from anxiety have lower levels of prostaglandins. This leads to reduced gastric mucus secretion. This mucus is essential because it protects the digestive lining against acid. Moreover, the low content in prostaglandins also cause increased acid production. The final effect is lower protection and easier aggression to the esophageal mucosa.
The Role Of Induced Eating Habits
It has been observed that people who suffer from anxiety tend to have wrong eating habits and lifestyles. For instance, tobacco smoking and alcohol are often seen as a possible “treatment” for this condition, but they are not for sure. They make things worse because they actually trigger reflux and ignite this vicious circle.

Those listed above are just a selection of symptoms and reasons why they are so important when a person suffers from both anxiety and acid reflux.

Whatever the case, it’s always suggested to make an effort to understand if heartburn is the result of anxiety alone, or it’s true gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Anxiety also increases a lot in a specific category of people, more precisely LPR sufferers (people who suffer from Laryngopharyngeal Reflux).

This happens in almost all cases for patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS).

In short, the occurrence of LPR in people who also are suffering from OSAS induces depression and anxiety.

But the opposite is also true, according to observations.

These findings need more scientific support, however, if proven 100% correct, this would mean that anxiety can be induced by specific conditions.

Water brash and anxiety

A possible distinction between heartburn and anxiety is the presence (or not) of a bitter or sour taste.

This feeling in the mouth may help to figure out if your heartburn is due to reflux (sour taste is present) or not (in the absence of this typical sensation).

Water brash is a typical symptom of acid reflux when it affects the upper tract of the digestive system.

It’s defined as a “mix” between the acid (which came up from the stomach) and the excess saliva: in these cases, there’s a feeling of bitter/sour taste that people who suffer from heartburn learn to describe very easily.

The heartburn caused by anxiety alone does not present this specific sensation, that’s why you should pay attention to that.

GERD From Anxiety

To date, there is not enough evidence to state with certainty that anxiety can cause GERD (or even acid reflux).

However, there are some facts that may play an important role in this complex relationship.

The first one is a general action that involves the body as a whole, and also the most important zone for reflux to start.

Impact On Esophageal Motility
Anxiety, as well as any other psychological distress, can have an impact on the esophageal motility and the functioning of the LES (lower esophageal sphincter). This ring is crucial for reflux, and psychological troubles can contribute to that thanks to this capability.

The second one is related to the presence of a very specific chemical, that may help in promoting reflux.

The Role Of CCK
CCK means cholecystokinin, a chemical that has been linked to both panic and gastrointestinal disorders. It has been observed that people who already suffer from anxiety, and with higher levels of CCK, are more likely to have acid reflux.

There’s another anxiety-related fact that may play a role in determining reflux.

Anxiety Leading To Bad Behaviors
People who suffer from anxiety, whatever the reason and the current health status, are more likely to engage in bad eating habits and wrong lifestyles, like smoking, drinking alcohol or eating fatty or fried foods. This also contributes to increased chances of getting acid relfux

However, as we’ve considered before, the opposite can also be true.

In fact, many people with heartburn and reflux, especially when the symptoms occur with a frequency worthy of concern, become progressively more anxious.

And this creates a vicious circle which makes both heartburn and anxiety worse.

That’s why we can’t forget to outline the best possible remedies, to escape this serious situation.

Once again, medications are not the first option, because when anxiety is present, lifestyle and eating habits are the pillars of everything.

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Medication for GERD And Anxiety

Reducing anxiety through drugs is not an option.

Nowadays, there’s an excessive prescription of drugs for psychological conditions, and that’s why many people are becoming dependent on them, without little to zero improvements.

If you have anxiety and heartburn (with or without reflux) the first things to do could be:

  • Exercise
  • Relaxation
  • Taking remedies (home-made)

Whatever the reason for your anxiety, you have to work on root causes, not symptoms, because they will return after the temporary relief.

Moreover, it has been proved that drugs commonly used to treat GERD are less effective for people who also have anxiety.

We don’t want to write a list of prescription medication, not even chemical drugs, that may be suggested for people who are dealing with acid reflux and anxiety.

On the contrary, we suggest treating both of these conditions with a more comprehensive, strategic approach.

That’s why we strongly recommend checking the resources we list in the final paragraph, “What To Do Next”.

You can find ideas, programs to follows and valuable, updated information on how to get rid of reflux as a whole.

But you need to start from some pillars.

They are eating habits and a healthier lifestyle.

Only to make some examples, you should:

  • Avoid foods that are known to trigger reflux
  • Try some relaxation techniques, like yoga, meditation and similar
  • Eat foods that are known to protect from heartburn and reflux
  • Be consistent, all days

A thing worth noting is that each of the programs you find below is also focusing the attention on anxiety, and stress.

This because your mood and your motivation in following a program to get rid of reflux are simply essential to achieve success.

If you have anxiety, you can’t expect any improvement in your quality of life, even if you’re following all the recommendations you’re going to find in such strategies and programs.

Just think about anxiety as the first, important obstacle to overcome.

Once you know how to do it, all the rest will be a lot easier.

Conclusions

Now, it’s time to summarize what we’ve considered about the complex, and, in some cases, the quite surprising relationship between acid reflux and anxiety.

Ther are at least 19 takeaways to remember.

The list is below.

Takeaways
#1) Anxiety is defined as “the natural response to stress”, and depending on the duration, it may become a true anxiety disorder.

#2) Anxiety and depression may play an important role in the occurrence of GERD.

#3) This evidence is even more relevant for people who suffer from NERD, meaning that they do not have esophageal erosion.

#4) Anxiety effect on people who suffer from reflux has nothing to do with the acid and/or the burning sensation in the esophagus.

#5) It has been observed that people who suffer from anxiety also report frequently heartburn and upper abdominal pain.

#6) People who suffer from anxiety, as well as many other psychological conditions, feel more intense symptoms of reflux, including heartburn.

#7) When these two conditions are present together the affected person has more difficulty in controlling the symptoms.

#8) Acid reflux can for sure ignite a vicious circle that increases anxiety levels, and this makes symptoms more likely to be felt.

#9) Patients with anxiety and depression or other mental health issues display a ‘hypervigilance’ or ‘hypersensitivity’ to pain sensations.

#10) Panic attacks can also be the only ones responsible for chest pain, another typical symptom of acid reflux.

#11) A person can have both anxiety-related heartburn, and GERD-related heartburn together.

#12) One of the first symptoms to remember is hyperventilation.

#13) People with anxiety have a higher level of muscle tension, and this leads to increased abdominal pressure.

#14) People who suffer from anxiety have lower levels of prostaglandins and this leads to reduced gastric mucus secretion, with lower protection and easier aggression to the esophageal mucosa.

#15) People who suffer from anxiety tend to have wrong eating habits and lifestyles.

#16) A possible distinction between heartburn and anxiety is the presence (or not) of a bitter or sour taste.

#17) Many people with heartburn and reflux, especially when the symptoms occur with a frequency worthy of concern, become progressively more anxious (the vicious circle).

#18) If you have anxiety and heartburn (with or without reflux) the first things to do could be relaxation, exercise, and home remedies.

#19) It has been proved that drugs commonly used to treat GERD are less effective for people who also have anxiety.

We suggest you write them down to recall them whenever you feel that anxiety is giving you problems in your path of treating reflux disease.

What To Do Next

And now, it’s time to take direct action.

You find below the list of 4 great resources you should rely on to overcome your problems of acid reflux and anxiety together, at once.

The Proven Holistic 5-Step System


One of the best strategies. Its strength point is the holistic approach, which means that you're going to care about all aspects that may affect your organism, in 5 steps. Also known as "Heartburn No More".

The Three Everyday Ingredients


This strategy works on underestimated aspects, such as food combinations that are much more important than avoiding certain types of foods. Also known as "The Acid Reflux Strategy".

The Double Protocol For Reflux


It targets two conditions at the same time: acid reflux and infection by H. pylori. Quick warning: this book is not suitable for all reflux sufferers. Also known as "Rapid Reflux Relief".

The Reflux Remedy Kit


This is a book + kit that presents some little known and creative natural remedies for heartburn and acid reflux. A good integration. Also known as "Heartburn & Acid Reflux Remedy Report".

It’s important to point out that even if you’re not suffering from anxiety, heartburn, and reflux, if not treated, trigger some psychological suffering.

This suffering can also become real anxiety, in some cases.

That’s why, by taking action ASAP, you have a solid chance to avoid more problems in the future.

Thank you for your attention, and for your patience as well.

Stay tuned for more!

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