Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Anxiety and Digestion
Name:  Donna
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A

Explain how anxiety may be responsible for slowing down the process of digestion

Your body really has 2 nervous systems. One is the peripheral nervous system that controls how you move and think etc. the other is called the autonomic (not automatic) nervous system It controls all of your everyday functions such as your heart, your blood vessel diameter and your digestive system, etc. There are 2 divisions of the ANS. One is called the parasympathetic and the other is the sympathetic. The parasympathetic is your everyday division, and is usually in control. When you come upon a stressful or dangerous situation, your sympathetic division takes over. It gets you ready to "fight or flee". Some parts of your body are put on alert. Your blood vessels constrict in some areas and dilate in others to get blood flowing to areas that will help you in a dangerous situation and to get glucose (fuel) to those areas quickly. Your heart starts to beat faster to send blood to those areas quicker, your pupils dilate. Other parts of your body are put on hold; those that aren't needed in a danger situation. Your digestive system is one that is put on hold. When you are under stress, your body doesn't know whether you are in danger or not but acts like it is. So if you are under constant stress, your digestive system is affected.


Click here to return to the Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory