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The mind and the bowel: How are they related? Depression


The mind and the bowel: Depression

Our brain, considered to be the control center of the whole of the human body, plays an intricate role in the digestive system. It is so attached to the digestive system such that changes in mood can also affect the passage of food in the gastrointestinal tract. So how is exactly the mind and the bowel related? Let us try to investigate!

First, let us go into a brief definition of depression. Depression falls under the category of mood disorders, principally characterized by an apparent loss of vigor towards daily activities, as well as an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. In most cases, depressed individuals have a lowered mood (with a relatively wide range – from mild emotions of sadness to highly intense emotions of guilt and being worthless), inability to think well and concentrate, tendency to be indecisive, absence of interest especially towards work and recreation, complaints pertaining to malfunction of the body such as headache, inability to or excess sleep, changes in attitude towards food resulting to anorexia, and a devastating feeling of anxiety. In cases of severe depression there is even a marked psychomotor retardation or agitation, tendency to have thoughts of being persecuted, withdrawal from routine and usual activities, and it also includes marked weight loss and ideas of having suicide.

So what makes depression have something to do with constipation? Depression does not only involve emotions – it also makes the gastrointestinal tract function inappropriately, such that there are marked episodes of either constipation or diarrhea. Depression can be due to decreased levels of neurotransmitters, namely norepinephrine and serotonin. Any changes in the circulating concentration of these neurotransmitters will result to lesser nerve excitation, and even though the body is capable of rejuvenating itself, loss of these neurotransmitters can only be reverted back after approximately one to three years. For that span of time however, there are already a lot of deleterious changes that can happen in the body, so losses should be compensated as fast as possible. Therefore, loss of neurotransmitters equals slowed transit, and therefore, constipation.

Constipation has to be relieved immediately, especially that it is capable of aggravating episodes of depression. Essentially, the body needs to evacuate stools as part of its detoxification process, and to eliminate any of the substances that the body chooses to reject. Once constipated, the fecal matter that is stored in the colon undergoes reabsorption frequently, and this would include reabsorption of toxins. This cycle will cause progressive deterioration in body function. More and more reabsorption will cause the stools to dry up, and therefore, the more constipated a person becomes. More and more reabsorption would also imply more and more toxins building up in the body, and this layer of toxins will begin to line the intestines, eventually hindering the body from processing nutrients that are vital to its function.

Any signs of depression should not be neglected. Most of the time when people feel so bad about themselves, they resort to eating large amounts of what they call “comfort foods”. This, however, should not be the case, because the intake of large amounts of these foods will result to further disruption in the digestive machinery. Contrary to popular belief, this will only worsen the situation. Thus, if you feel depressed, do not neglect your body by not eating healthy foods. The best way to get out of your situation is eat right (vegetables and fruits mainly), have your regular sleep pattern (do not spend your nights crying and feeling sorry about yourself), have your physical exercise to help you detoxify faster, and most importantly, be determined to get out of your situation fast. These pointers will definitely help you get out of your depression and thus, not compromise your digestive system's function.

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