Thursday, April 25, 2024

Can Depression Cause Stomach Problems

The Potential Benefits Of Probiotics

How can Depression affect stomach? Can Stress Cause Stomach Problems? |

One area of great interest to researchers looking at IBS, mental health disorders, and links between the two, is the human microbiome, or the diverse population of gut microbia that lives in our gastrointestinal tract, which appears to play an active role in many areas of health. Normally, a balanced population of good bacteria keeps our digestive system healthy but when that balance is disrupted, as it can be for a variety of biological, psychological, medical and environmental reasons, an overgrowth of bad bacteria can result. Studies are showing this imbalance can have profound negative effects on both physical and mental health.

Does Ibs Cause Depression

IBS does not cause mood disorders but may worsen symptoms of depression. The severity of IBS symptoms such as bloating and cramping impact quality of life significantly and may lead to the development of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. According to a recent survey, up to 50% of people with IBS would give up their mobile phone in exchange for 1 month of relief. This data indicates how severely irritable bowel syndrome may impact a patient’s mental health and promote psychological symptoms.

Irritable bowel syndrome may also worsen symptoms of depression by influencing behavior. Concern over bowel movements or symptoms of IBS may lead patients to seek isolation and avoid social activities. These changes in behavior may cause psychological symptoms such as loneliness and helplessness, that contribute to feelings of depression.

Signs Your Stomach Problems May Be From Mental Health Issues

There is little worse than having habitual stomach pain, especially if you arenât totally sure what causes it. And while you might have been to a doctor and even tried all kinds of common treatments from probiotic foods to Pepto Bismal, if your belly just continues aching, it could be a sign your stomach issues and mental health are related. And while that might seem strange or even nerve-wracking, rest assured that oftentimes what is going on mentally or emotionally for us ends up manifesting itself in the body through physical symptoms. There are definitely ways to both recognize this is whatâs going on, and ways to treat the issue, too!

As counselor Travis McNulty tells Bustle, stomach issues can often be considered your bodyâs alarm system when it comes to whatâs going on with your mental health. âYour stomach is saying, âIâm going to manifest your anxiety in a physical symptom,’â McNulty says. âThen you start producing excessive stomach acid since your body is tired and uncomfortable.â

You can think of the pain as your body communicating to you, McNulty says. Then you have the opportunity to listen to your body and identify what might be causing some emotional and psychological suffering.

If this feels like it might ring true for you, consider some of the signs below that might indicate your stomach issues are a sign something deeper is going on.

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Pain Of Depression: Physical Symptoms Of Depression

Depression is a mental illness known as a mood disorder, so some people think the only effects of depression are on mood. This, however, is not the case. Depression is linked to many physical symptoms including insomnia, lack of energy and loss of interest in sex. Physical pain from depression is also widely recognized with up to half of all people with depression reporting physical pain. In a study of 25,000 patients, 50% of depressed patients reported unexplained, physical symptoms of depression.1

The physical pain of depression should be a major concern for doctors, as continuing pain reduces the chances for a successful recovery from depression and increases the possible risk of suicide.

Bloating & Gas Caused Due To Anxiety

Tips for Coping With Nausea While on Antidepressants

Although bloating and gas is directly associated with indigestion, they are also considered to be different problems in their own way. A person suffering from anxiety and stress are likely to have gas and bloating problems. Since the nutrient processing is affected due to stress and anxiety, it may lead to bloating and gas but sometimes bloating and gas can also be caused due to other factors like air swallowing, which is the common symptom of anxiety attack, especially hyperventilation. Hyperventilation and air swallowing leads to air buildup in chest and stomach and this increases the chances of belching and flatulence. The person may also experience significant discomfort and pain.

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Eye Problems Or Decreasing Vision

Do you find that the world looks blurry? While depression may cause the world to look grey and bleak, one 2010 research study in Germany suggests that this mental health concern may actually affect ones eyesight.

In that study of 80 people, depressed individuals had difficulty seeing differences in black and white. Known by researchers as contrast perception, this might explain why depression can make the world look hazy.

Trauma The Cause Of Ibs And Depression

Trauma, as explained by the biopsychosocial model, may represent a link between depression and IBS. Rates of physical or emotional trauma are high IBS patients, and up to 50% of patients with IBS have experienced trauma twice the rate of healthy controls. Some researchers hypothesize that trauma is the source of IBS in most patients.

Forms of trauma include sexual assault, vehicle accidents and death of a loved one, and such events also elevate the risk of mood disorders such as depression. Hence, the onset of trauma may lead to a vicious cycle of depression and IBS, as both are thought to arise following trauma.

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What Was Remarkable Was That The Animals That Receive The Depressed Microbiome Behave Depressed

The researchers then dosed a group of germfree mice with lactobacillus bacteria the class of friendly bacteria that Phillips had also used on his melancholic patients. Although these mice still showed a higher stress response than the mice that had never been raised germ-free, their stress responses were less pronounced than the mice without any gut microbes.

There are even some signs that depressive behaviours can be transmitted across species from human to mouse through the microbes in the gut.

In one study, Chinese researchers in Chongqing took a sample of the gut microbiota from patients with Major Depressive Disorder and planted them in germfree mice. These mice subsequently were quicker to quit, on a “forced” swimming task a behaviour that is often considered to be analogous to the lethargy and hopelessness found in depression. And when the mice were placed in a box, they spent less time exploring the central areas and instead stayed closer to the edge, where they felt more secure.

What was remarkable was that the animals that receive the depressed microbiome, behave depressed, says Julio Licinio at New York Upstate Medical University, who was a co-author on the paper. If you change the microbiome, you change the behaviour.

Only two out of every 10 patients taking antidepressant drugs show signs of improvement

Multiple pathways

These effects may arise through many pathways.

Can Gastric Disorders Contribute To Anxiety And Depression

The Connection Between Anxiety and Stomach Problems

Dr. Randi Fredricks, Ph.D. is a therapist, researcher and author with a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Doctorate in Naturopathy. Dr. Fredricks works…Read More

It turns out that stomach problems can cause a lot more than just physical discomfort. Research has suggested that gastrointestinal troubles may be linked with anxiety and depression as well.

It is probably no surprise that stomach issues can cause stress, but they can also lead to significant mental health problems. The stomach complaints most strongly associated with anxiety and depression appear to be conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome . However, a 2011 Stanford University study discovered that even short-term digestive problems can lead to mental health issues later.

Of course, not all stomach irritation is related with lifelong psychological problems. The Stanford study noted that the exact impact most likely depends on when gastrointestinal trouble occurs during someones development. It is also likely influenced by genetics and other environmental factors.

Research has found that around 20 percent of Americans suffer from persistent or recurring pain in the upper stomach region, related to conditions such as IBS. A number of studies have shown that these individuals are significantly more likely to experience anxiety or depression.


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Childhood Stomach Aches May Lead To Anxiety Depression As An Adult

Stomach aches may be a normal part of life for some children, but a new study shows that unexplained abdominal pain at an early age may cause anxiety or depression come adulthood.

Research published online Aug. 12 in Pediatrics shows that 51 percent of children who had abdominal pain as children also had an anxiety disorder sometime during their lifetime. Thirty percent had a current diagnosis at the time they were surveyed.

A decade later, individuals who had stomach pain continued to have high rates of anxiety disorders, even if they no longer had stomach pain, study author Lynn Walker, a professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., told HealthDay.

For comparison, only 20 percent of people who did not have abdominal issues when they were a kid had an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.

The authors pointed out that between eight and 25 percent of all children experience chronic stomach pain without a known medical cause like an infection or blockage, which is known as functional abdominal pain.

Its very prevalent, and its one of the most common reasons that children and adolescents end up in their pediatricians office. Its one of the most common reasons kids are missing school, Dr. Eva Szigethy, head of the Medical Coping Clinic at the Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, said to Reuters. She was not involved in the study.

Indigestion Caused Due To Anxiety

People that are suffering from persistent anxiety are likely to suffer from stomach problems like indigestion issues. However, the prime mechanism that leads to indigestion during anxiety is still vague, but it is thought to occur from the following reasons.

  • Adrenaline Adrenaline is the chemical that is released excessively during anxiety. This chemical compound is liable to make changes in the processing of nutrients, especially the glucose and when the body experiences a change in nutrient processing, it affects the digestion severely and hence leading to stomach problems.
  • Neurotransmitters and Hormones As already mentioned, anxiety, digestion and gut is mainly affected by the similar neurotransmitters and hormones. So, when a person is suffering from anxiety, the balance of neurotransmitter and hormones in body gets disturbed, which leads to stomach discomfort and other stomach problems.
  • Stomach Acid The stomach acid is also affected during anxiety. The acid reflux is more commonly affected when the person suffers from severe anxiety. The stomach starts releasing excessive stomach acid during stress and anxiety and this increases the production of stomach acid, which causes heartburn and poor digestion.

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Pain Is Another Way Your Brain Communicates

If you feel discomfort identifying and talking about distressing emotions, like sadness, anger, and shame, this could cause feelings to manifest differently in the body.

If youre experiencing any of these physical symptoms for a prolonged period of time, make an appointment with your primary care doctor or nurse practitioner. If you dont already have a provider, our Healthline FindCare tool can help you connect to physicians in your area.

According to the American Psychological Association, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting 14.8 million American adults each year.

Depression can be caused by a variety of factors, such as genetics, exposure to childhood stress or trauma, and brain chemistry. People with depression often need professional help, like psychotherapy and medication, to fully recover.

So at your appointment, if you suspect these physical symptoms might be more than surface level, request to be screened for depression and anxiety. This way your healthcare provider can connect you with the help you need.

New Gut Understanding Equals New Treatment Opportunities

Natural treatment for stomach ulcers

This new understanding of the ENS-CNS connection helps explain the effectiveness of IBS and bowel-disorder treatments such as antidepressants and mind-body therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy and medical hypnotherapy. Our two brains talk to each other, so therapies that help one may help the other, Pasricha says. In a way, gastroenterologists are like counselors looking for ways to soothe the second brain.

Gastroenterologists may prescribe certain antidepressants for IBS, for examplenot because they think the problem is all in a patients head, but because these medications calm symptoms in some cases by acting on nerve cells in the gut, Pasricha explains. Psychological interventions like CBT may also help to improve communications between the big brain and the brain in our gut, he says.

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Where Can I Find Support

If you are concerned about any symptoms of depression or mental illness, talk to a GP or medical professional.

If you need to talk to someone about mental illness or a crisis in your life, please consider calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, or for advice and support contact beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

Stress Can Itself Increase Inflammation For Instance Which Can Then Affect The Microbes In Our Gut

Gut microbes also influence how we digest and metabolise the precursors of important neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Our gut flora even has a direct line of communication to the brain, through the vagus nerve, which has receptors near the gut lining that allow it to keep a check on our digestion. Microbes in the intestine can therefore release chemical messengers that alter the signalling of the vagus nerve and, as a consequence, the brains activity. Locally in the gut, theres a lot of opportunity for the bacteria to communicate with the host systems including the nervous system, says Foster. Its a very dynamic, interactive, rich space.

These pathways are not one-way streets however, so brain activity can also influence the gut flora composition. Stress can itself increase inflammation, for instance, which can then affect the microbes in our gut. The result could be a kind of feedback loop.

New avenues

Foster says research in this field is now rapidly accelerating, conducted both by university scientists and commercial companies academic meetings, discussing the findings, are now dime-a-dozen every week.

Ultimately, these researchers hope that their findings will offer a new treatment target for illnesses such as depression.

Researchers who dosed germfree mice with a strain of “friendly” bacteria found they had much less serious reactions to stress

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Mental Health Should Be A Priority

Arthur Kleinman is a professor of Medical Anthropology and Psychiatry at Harvard University and world expert on mental health. Kleinman has carried out various studies related to social suffering and mental health.

Mental health is a huge public health issue. The WHO reported that The estimated costs of scaling up treatment, primarily psychosocial counseling and antidepressant medication, amounted to US$ 147 billion. However, it also reported that the benefits far outweigh the costs.

We need to provide treatment, now, to those who need it most, and in the communities where they live. Until we do, mental illness will continue to eclipse the potential of people and economies.

-Arthur Kleinman-

In this sense, WHO ensures that its essential to expand mental health services on a global scale. As a result, wed be able to ensure well-being for the entire population at different socioeconomic levels.

WHO also clarifies that the Sustainable Development Goals, approved by the United Nations General Assembly, propose reducing a third of premature deaths by non-contagious diseases by 2030. It plans to achieve this by promoting prevention and treatment of mental illnesses.

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Overlap Between Ibs And Depression

Does Depression Cause Physical Pain?

IBS and symptoms of depression clearly influence one another. However, the biological nature of the link between the two is not fully understood. The gut-brain axis, which is the connection between the GI tract and the nervous system, as well as the biopsychosocial model are two concepts that may help to explain the connection.

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Evidence Depression Isn’t Just ‘all In Your Head’

Senior Wellness & Travel Editor, HuffPost

Depression touches people differently, making dealing with the condition more of a personal experience than a universal one. Some describe the illness as a dark cloud, while others liken it to being trapped in an empty space.

Regardless of how it personally feels, what many people don’t know is that the illness can also take a physical toll on the body. Those symptoms, combined with the emotional side effects, have the potential to be draining.

Infographic by Alissa Scheller for The Huffington Post.


Headaches. These pains can be one of the hallmark physical signs of depression, particularly in adolescents, says John F. Greden, M.D., executive director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center. While most people report that their depression headaches are dull, sometimes the illness can cause tension headaches, Everyday Health reported. Depression can also put people at greater risk for developing migraines.

Indigestion. People with depression may experience stomach problems as well, Greden says. Additionally, digestive issues such as colitis or stomach ulcers may be worsened by extreme stress or depression, Everyday Health reported.

Appetite and weight changes. Depression has the potential to significantly alter eating habits. This could mean eating too much or too little, and as a result, weight gain or weight loss.



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