It's a well-known fact that a person's mental and emotional state can affect the state of his or her gastrointestinal tract. When someone is under constant stress, for instance, the person is more likely to experience gastritis and anxiety can worsen GERD symptoms. However, research indicates the opposite may also be true; problems in the gut may lead to mental health issues. Here's more information about this development.
The Gut-Brain Connection
It has long been believed that what happens in the gut can affect a person's mental health. For a period of time, though, the connection was dismissed because there wasn't any clear evidence for it. However, a few studies conducted on people and mice appear to confirm there is some link between gastrointestinal and mental health.
One study involving 45 people, participants were given two prebiotics or a placebo for three weeks. At the end of the study, people were given a test to determine how they processed emotional information. The group who were given the prebiotics experienced a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol and was less likely to pay attention to negative information as a result.
In other studies involving mice, specially bred germ-free mice were unable to recognize their brethren, while those whose microbiomes (the community of organisms in the gut) were disrupted began exhibiting signs of anxiety, depression, and autism. Although mice are not biologically similar to humans, the research does provide some evidence that problems in the gastrointestinal tract may manifest in the mind as well as the body.
Health Issues Can Cause Mental Health Problems
While research into the gut-brain connection is still in its infancy, there is a lot of evidence supporting the idea that suffering from illness and health problems can have a negative impact on people's mental wellness. Not only can the stress from the pain, inconvenience, and other issues associated with dealing with the illness lead to anxiety and depression, but medications the person may be taking to treat the issue can also induce mental health disorders as a side effect.
Regardless of the source of the psychological problem, it's important to seek help as soon as possible. Depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional disorders can significantly reduce your quality of life, make it difficult to be productive, and negatively impact your relationship with others. It's essential you speak to a mental health professional for assistance with diagnosing and treating the issue so you can start enjoying life again.
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