Is Gastroparesis causing your depression and anxiety? When food is not an option, try this technique.

Gastroparesis, depression, anxiety

First of all, Gastroparesis Pain IS Real

In the summer of 2020, I was helping my son recover from a motorcycle accident. Suddenly, I was overcome with such extreme stomach pain. I almost fainted and had to throw myself in the shower. I was screaming in pain at the top of my lungs.

My son asked me if he needed to take me to the ER.

“Hell no!”, I replied. “All they are going to do is give me Dilaudid and Zofran. The Zofran does nothing for me, so I will be puking all night. Then sleeping all day…”

I know this drill. Been there, done that…several times. I was hydrated. So I treated myself with a hot pad, did some diaphragmatic breathing and went to sleep. All this, knowing the next day would offer me a colonic cleanse. Yay me.

And again, I survived.

Gastroparesis Related Psychosomatic Symptoms

WAIT! Don’t close this yet. I understand the anger, frustration and resentment that occurs when someone expresses that our Gastroparesis symptoms are “all in our minds”. Or they are “psychosomatic”.

But, maybe…just maybe, we might want to consider this from time to time. With an open mind, please read on.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information Website has determined:

  • Gastroparesis is associated with significant psychological distress and poor quality of life.
  • Patients suffering from chronic gastrointestinal conditions frequently report psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and impaired quality of life (QoL).
  • Based on one study 18% of gastroparesis patients have severe depression, 36% have severe state anxiety, and 35% have severe trait anxiety. 
  • With limited treatment options available for gastroparesis, the importance of psychological support or intervention for gastroparesis patients has been repeatedly emphasized in the literature. [1]

Can you relate? And the distress and anxiety has taken me to the ER more times than one could imagine.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Depression Associated with Gastroparesis

I can’t count the number of, “I can’t go on anymore like this”, or “I give up”, posts I have seen on the GP Facebook group pages.


Or contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They are available 24 hours: 800-273-8255

Getting help is not a show of weakness. Quite the contrary, it takes courage to reach out for help.

You may not want to consider “taking another damn pill”, but if it is necessary, then it is necessary. Speak to your doctor.

I also recommend not doing any research online while in this state. Additionally, you might want to take a break from the Facebook groups or online forums. Although these groups are a great source of support and encouragement, some days there is a multitude of distressed people posting.

However, sometimes you need to share your despair with your group. And most of the time, the group will help hold you up. So, use your best judgement.

In the early days of my diagnosis, I found myself in a full state of depression. I made the mistake of visiting a dysfunctional part of my family. Then I read an article about child trafficking. This along with the thought that my fiancé at the time had not really signed up for this.

I laid off the internet and met with my doctor. I accepted his prescription for Lexapro. And I started seeing a therapist and a chiropractor.

Anxiety and Distress Associated with Gastroparesis

I get it. When we don’t eat solid food for sometimes weeks at a time, fear rises up. What is happening to the organs of my body? Or the anxiety of what pain we might experience if we choose to take a couple bites of a sandwich.

“Feel the fear and do it anyway!” ― Susan Jeffers

It is to our benefit to try to take those couple of bites. Though we might feel extreme pain, we might also find that we are able to do this. If our bodies are not ready, we will know soon enough. But we must try!

Hydration is about the best thing we can do for ourselves while we are in a flare up. I tend to reach for Propel or any water that includes electrolytes. This has kept me from the ER so many times. I may not know what is happening within my body but I do know that I am hydrated.

Additionally, for anxiety and depression, check out the breathing technique below to help calm your anxiety and soothe your depression.

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During one of my sessions with my chiropractor, I fell apart. Sobbing, I let out everything I was going through on him. My chiropractor then sat me up on the table and showed me a breathing technique to balance the sympathetic/parasympathetic systems.

He recommended that I do this every time my emotions were extremely imbalanced. Out of all the treatment this gentleman gave me, this recommendation was the most valuable.

The technique is called Diaphragmatic Breathing and it would be a lifesaver to me for many years. Coincidentally, this is a breathing technique I learned during Yoga Teacher training.

And it is easy to do. In a sitting or laying down position:

  • Place one hand on the middle of the upper chest and the other hand on the stomach, just beneath the rib cage but above the diaphragm.
  • Inhale, slowly breathing in through the nose
  • Draw the breath down toward the stomach. You should feel the stomach push upward against the hand, while the chest remains still.
  • Exhale, tightening the abdominal muscles
  • Let the stomach fall downward while exhaling through pursed lips.
  • Make sure your chest remains still. You want to breathe through your diaphragm, not your chest.

Continue this way of breathing until you feel calm and relaxed. Do this as many times as you need according to your emotional state.

Here is a video instruction by the UCLA Integrative Digestive Health and Wellness Program:

Support Pets

In addition, many of us Gastroparesis warriors find support pets a great deal of help. I recently adopted Winston, my “Schnau-shund”. Coincidentally, he also has Gastroparesis. Fortunately, dogs do not suffer as badly as we humans. But we do have much compassion for each other.

Between the Covid-19 shutdown/quarantine and my Gastroparesis flare ups, Winston keeps me sane, gets me walking and brings so much joy to my life. And…he loves to do yoga with me.

I hope you find the suggestions in this writing helpful. Please let me know whether they do or don’t in the comments. And if you have anything else that works for you.

Stay blissful AND healthy my fellow GP Warriors.


The 8 Limbs of Yoga – Part 4 Pranayama

This past week, I have had to deal with the loss of a friend and the loss of an extended family pet. In addition, we had a blizzard, which led to many schedule changes. Easter is upon us and my new granddaughter was scheduled to arrive Friday morning. This led me to run into Kmart for a few last minute items. Big mistake.

Apparently there was a liquid detergent spill on the other side of the store. Didn’t matter how far away it was. Suddenly, I began coughing uncontrollably. When the cough drop didn’t work, and as I got closer to the spill, I realized I was in a full-fledged asthma attack. Big Bummer.

The following day, my granddaughter entered our world! Wow! This is a lot. It would all be perfect if I could just breathe…

Which brings us to the Fourth Limb of  Yoga: Pranayama

Is there anything magical about breathing? Well, without the breath, there is no life. Prana, meaning “life force” and yama, meaning “to control”. [1]

One of the things I love most about Kundalini Yoga is the intense focus on the practice of Pranayama such as in the video below:


There are several types of Pranayama here are just a few:

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Also known as Belly Breathing or Deep Breathing. It is a very simple  yet powerful form of breathing:


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Diaphragmatic breathing is one of the most recommended breathing excersizes for asthma and other respitory diseases.

  1. Place one hand on your bellybetween your lower ribs and navel.
  2. Relax your upper chest and shoulders.
  3. Breathe in through your nose, you should feel your tummy rise or move out as you breathe in.
  4. Breathe out gently through your lips, you will feel  your belly moving in.
  5. Practice first when sitting and relaxed so that it is automatic when you really need it.

Suryan Bhedan Pranayama (Right Nostril Breathing)

Surya is a Hindu word which means, “the sun”. In Surya Bheda Pranayama, we activate the right nostril channel(Surya Nadi).

Here are a few benefits one gets from practicing Right Nostril Breathing:

  • Has been known to help with weight loss.
  • Increasess vitality.
  • Very effective for depression, low energy.
  • Helps with  stress management.
  • Reduces anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses.
  • May bring on Spiritual Awakenings.
  • It provides all the benefits of Deep breathing as well

Note: Surya Bheda Pranayama is mentioned in the yoga texts Hatha Yoga Pradeepika and the Gheranda Samhita.

  1. Sit in a meditative asana (position).
  2. Straighten your trunk and spine and place the hands on the knees. Take few relaxed breaths before starting the practice.
  3. Next,  raise the right hand and place the forefinger and the middle finger on the forehead between the eyebrows.
  4. Use the ring finger to close the left nostril.
  5. Breathe in slowly through the right nostril and fill the lungs entirely.
  6. Close both nostrils (thumb closes the right nostril and ring finger closes the left nostril) and hold the breath.
  7. Perform Jalandhara Bandha (the chin lock) and Moola Bhandha.
  8. Hold the breath to the extent that you are comfortable. In the yoga texts, it is said that one should hold the breath till perspiration appears. But, be cautious with breath retention and never overdo it.
  9. Release Moola Bhandha and Jalandhara Bandha and exhale through the left nostril (Ida Nadi), keeping the right nostril closed.
  10. This is one round. Repeat as many rounds as comfortable. You may start with 5 rounds and later increase it to 10 or beyond. Also, the duration of Kumbhaka should be increased carefully over a period of time. Advanced practitioners can go up to 80 rounds per sitting.[2]


Ujjayi Pranayama

One of the most popular forms of Pranayama  Ujiayi is particularly useful for calming the mind. It is also known to be beneficial to those suffering from stress, insomnia, and mental tension. With practice, you’ll learn to guide your breath — allowing your breath to guide your practice.

In contrast to other pranayamas, practiced while seated or lying down, Ujjayi is actually performed throughout your practice in every pose. The steadiness, sound, and depth of the Ujjayi breath assist in uniting (Yoga means union after all),  your mind, body, and spirit to the present moment. This unification brings fullness and depth to our individual practice. In addition, the deep exhalations and extra oxygen fortify and reinforce your physical practice!

Would you like to release pent-up emotions and frustrations? Practiced Ujiayi routinely!

  1. Begin seated in a comfortable position, such as Easy Pose (Sukhasana). Let your body relax and gently close your eyes. Drop your mouth open slightly, relaxing your jaw and your tongue.
  2. Take a cleansing breathe.
  3. Feel the air of your inhalations passing through your windpipe.
  4. On your exhalations, slightly contract the back of your throat, as you do when you whisper.  Maintain the slight constriction of the throat on your inhalations, as well. (You will notice your breath making an “ocean” sound, softly moving in and out.)
  5. When you feel comfortable  with the control your throat during the inhalations and exhalations, gently close your mouth and begin breathing only through your nose.
  6. Keep the same constriction in your throat as you did when your mouth was open, continuing to hear the “ocean” sound as you breathe through your nose.
  7. Concentrate on the sound of your breath; allow it to calm your mind. It should be audible to you, but not too loud.
  8. Let your inhalations fill your lungs to their fullest expansion. Completely release the air during your exhalations.

If you are practicing Ashtanga or Vinyasa Yoga,  you will maintain the connection of Ujjayi breath and asanas throughout your practice, releasing your Ujjayi breath when your practice is complete and you are in Corpse Pose (Savasana).


Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama or Anuloma – Viloma Alternate nostril breathing

Nadi Shuddhi is a fundamental form of pranayama that keeps a check on heart rate and makes the blood flow smoother. In addition to all these, it calms and focuses the mind. Increasing the oxygen flow into your body with as fewer breaths as possible is its main purpose.

  1. If you are a beginner in pranayama, you can sit in Sukhasana.
  2. Close your left nostril with the help of your left thumb and exhale the concerned breath fully through the right nostril.
  3. Inhale the air from the right nostril gently.
  4. Fill your lungs with as much air as you can before closing the right nostril by the center of your left hand or index finger.
  5. Next, exhale the air through the left nostril.
  6. The next step is to inhale through the left side and fill the lungs with maximum air.
  7. Close the left nostril to exhale the air through the right side.

Make sure, the breathing is wholesome and the air passage is full. It is best to perform this a minimum of ten times. You can do more if desired.

When I suffered from Gastroparesis, I was not allowed to take any pain killers. I had to learn how to breathe through the  pain. Sometimes, I forgot. Fortunately, my husband was by my side reminding me to return to the breath. I cannot tell you enough, how much this not only helped with the pain, but also with my sanity. Intense chronic pain is not only physically stressful, but also mentally and emotionally.

In conclusion:

When we are suffering from loss, we can just breathe.

When we are in physical pain, we can just breathe.

When we are mentally exhausted, we can just breathe.

When we are emotionally stressed, we can just breathe.

There is a breath for every circumstance in life. Just breathe.

Stay blissful my friends – E