Stress-Induced Gastritis: What It Is, Symptoms & Treatment

January 2022

Stress-induced gastritis is a stomach condition that is also known as functional dyspepsia or non-ulcer dyspepsia. Although it does not result in stomach inflammation like classic gastritis, it can cause similar symptoms such as heartburn, burning sensation and a feeling of a full stomach. This type of gastritis is triggered by emotional issues such as stress, anxiety and nervousness.

Stress-induced gastritis is curable, and can be treated with dietary changes and antacid medication, which helps to soothe the stomach’s mucosa so as not to cause heartburn.

An essential part of treatment also involves the management and coping of  stress and emotions in general.

Main symptoms

The main symptoms of stress-induced gastritis are stomach pain and constant discomfort, however other symptoms may include:

  • Nausea and a feeling of fullness;
  • Abdominal bloating and pain
  • Poor digestion and frequent burping;
  • Headache and general malaise;
  • Loss of appetite, vomiting or urge to vomit.

These symptoms may appear at any time but intensify during periods of stress or anxiety. Some of these symptoms may also be present in other types of gastritis, which may complicate the diagnosis.

Treatment options

The use of antacid medication (e.g. Pepto Bismol), or medication that decreases stomach acid production (e.g. omeprazole or pantoprazole) is often recommended for the treatment of stress-induced gastritis. These should be taken as directed by the doctor.

Continuous use of these medications is not recommended. Treatment should be aimed at the management of emotional issues that trigger the symptoms. It can involve psychotherapy, relaxation techniques such as meditation, a balanced diet and regular physical activity.

A great home remedy for gastritis is chamomile tea, which should be taken 2 to 3 times a day to promote its calming effect. Other natural calming herbal remedies include valerian, lavender and passion-flower tea.

Diet for stress-induced gastritis

The recommended foods for the treatment of stress-induced gastritis are those that are easy to digest and have a calming effect, such as lean boiled or grilled meat, fish, boiled vegetables and peeled fruits. Drinking plenty of water immediately after a flare-up of symptoms is recommended.  A slow, gradual return to normal diet is recommended, with preference given to natural seasonings when flavoring food. Dairy should be avoided.

Other foods that should be avoided are those that are high in fat and sugar and can irritate the stomach, such as red meat, sausage, bacon, fried foods, chocolate, sweets, coffee and pepper. You should steer clear of smoking and drinking alcohol, as well as artificial teas, soft drinks and sparkling water to prevent further flare-ups of gastritis.

Other important things to consider are to avoid lying down right after meals, avoid drinking during meals, and eat slowly and in quiet places. Watch more tips from our nutritionist, in this video (please enable English subtitles in the video options):

Can stress-induced gastritis turn into cancer?

Stress-induced gastritis cannot become cancer because this type of gastritis does not cause any actual inflammation of the stomach. The test used to diagnose gastritis, called an endoscopy, doesn’t show the presence of any stomach lesions, which reduces the probability for the development of stomach cancer.

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Edited by Tua Saude editing team in January 2022. Clinical review completed by Tatiana Zanin - Registered Dietitian in January 2022.

References

  • ANTUNES, Mariana O. et al. Ansiedade e estresse em indivíduos diagnosticados com gastrite. Revista Bionorte, v. 4, n. 1, fev. 2015. Disponível em: http://revistabionorte.com.br/arquivos_up/artigos/a.pdf . Acesso em 27/01/2020.
  • PSICOLOGADO. O Estresse como Fator Desencadeador da Gastrite Crônica: Resposta Fisiológica ou Psicossomática?. Edição 07/2016. . Access in 27 Jan 2020
Clinical review:
Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
Graduated in Clinical Nutrition in 2001 and has a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Licensed to practice under the CRN-3 in Brazil and the ON in Portugal