IBS can be depressing, literally and figuratively! A lot of people who may be suffering from a type of digestive disorder such as crohn’s, colitis, IBS or even chronic constipation, many times also suffer from mood disorders such as anxiety, depression or irritability. Now, I know that not feeling well can make you cranky, but there’s a lot more to it than that. The link between between the gut and the brain is very real. Serotonin, know as “the feel good hormone” is produced in the gut. One reason for depression could be the lack of serotonin because the gut is out of balance.
Without getting too technical, the same type of cells and neurotransmitters found in our brain are also located within the digestive system – which by the way is the largest part of our immune system. When we get any type of intestinal irritation, inflammation, bacterial or viral infection our “intestinal” immune system reacts by producing proteins called cytokines. These cytokines tell our body what type of reaction to have, such as swelling, stiffness, pain etc…It has now been shown that these cytokines will travel a very unique pathway from the gut to the brain, setting into motion a chemical reaction that results in the breakdown of the neurotransmitters involved in mood stability.
So, this is a two-way street. When your digestive system is out of balance, you feel depressed and when it’s in good shape you feel good. This may be why we often get a sense of euphoria after a really good dump – you know what I mean.