Although anxiety won't cause GERD, it can cause heartburn and make GERD symptoms worse, Dr. Madanick says. A person can have both anxiety-related heartburn and GERD-related heartburn. "One of the signs that it's not just reflux is that treating the reflux problem doesn't make it any better," he says.
Reducing anxiety and stress through, for example, exercise, relaxation, and therapy, can also ease heartburn.
Dr. Madanick says that, as with other conditions that masquerade as GERD, "many times the only times we will see a patient...is when the over-the-counter medications haven't worked, because the medications tend to be very effective for treating simple heartburn."
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