• Julian Simpson

How Stress, anxiety and depression can lead to gut problems

Nearly 15% of the population has a range of gut reactions, from irritable bowel syndrome to chronic constipation. 

Did you know that the majority of these reaction often reflect ones emotional state?

Lets talk about how Stress, anxiety and depression can lead to gut problems 

1st- the biomechanial reactions that happen when we are not at ease. 

- When the brain perceives a threat, the hypothalamus is triggered (this co ordinates all our vital functions and releases the stress hormone CRF)

- When CRF levels are high enough, it switches organs like the gut into stress mode. 

- Studies show spiking CRF levels give symptoms of severe belly pain

- This can lead to the gut contracting more and when the contents are removed, it can result in diarrhoea. 

- Or then gut can reverse its emptying and empty upwards and the gut wall becomes leakier and colon secretes more water and mucus. 

2nd- How the Brain and the Guts nervous system communicate. 

-The brain sends two sets of nerve signals, those that stimulate and those that inhibit gut stimulation. 


3rd- The limbic system 

Emotion-specific circuits within the limbic system get activated when you're angry, scared, feel hurt and when you feel hungry and/or thirsty. 

The emotion related brain circuits send signals to the stomach when we face situations to rid it of some contents that might drain energy required for action. (hence why we need to go to the bathroom when we get nervous about a meeting etc)

Mind-Gut Connection, The: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health

Mayer, Emeran.2018. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

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