Last updated: Jun 06, 2011
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Q: When I get nervous or upset at work, I always get diarrhea. A co-worker says it could be IBS. Really?


A: Its possible. What people sometimes call "nervous stomach" can also be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common disorder of the colon that can cause diarrhea, constipation, cramping, and/or bloating. Stress can trigger it, since some of the same chemicals, such as serotonin, that affect your brain when youre anxious can change the movement of your intestines, too.

To combat the messy effects of this gut-brain connection, try an over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicine, such as Imodium, on the mornings you know youve got something stressful ahead of you, like a meeting with the boss. Relaxation techniques (yoga, cardio, or meditation) may also help. In any case, see your doctor to confirm that you have IBS; she may want to rule out other conditions, or she may suggest therapy and possibly an antidepressant, among other treatments, to ease the problem.