We now know this is because the mind communicates with the gastrointestinal system. A complete ecosystem comprising 100 trillion bacteria residing in our bowels is an energetic participant in this brain-gut talk. Recent discoveries around this relationship have made us consider using talk therapy and antidepressants as it can be treatments for symptoms of chronic gut problems.
The purpose is to hinder the conversation between your two organs by informing the brain to correct the faulty bowel. Our research found chat therapy can improve major depression and the quality of life of patients with gastrointestinal conditions. Antidepressants could also have a brilliant effect on both the course of a colon disease and associated anxiety and despair. What exactly are gastrointestinal conditions?
Gastrointestinal conditions are incredibly common. About 20% of adults and children suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disorder where abdominal pain or discomfort go hand-in-hand with changes in bowel habits. These could involve chronic diarrhoea and constipation, or a mixture of both. IBS is a so-called useful disorder, because while its symptoms are incapacitating, there are no visible pathological changes in the bowel. So it is diagnosed based on symptoms rather than specific diagnostic checks or procedures. This is contrary to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a disorder where the disease fighting capability reacts in an exaggerated manner on track gut bacteria.
Inflammatory colon disease is associated with bleeding, diarrhoea, weight loss and anaemia (iron insufficiency) and can be a cause of loss of life. It’s called an organic colon disease because we can see clear pathological changes triggered by swelling to the colon lining. Subtypes of inflammatory colon disease are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Around five million people worldwide, and more than 75,000 in Australia, live with the problem. A day People who have bowel conditions may need to use the bathroom 20 to 30 times. They suffer pain that make a difference their family and social lives also, education, careers and ability to travel.
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Many experience nervousness and melancholy in response to the way the disease changes their life. But studies also suggest people that have nervousness and melancholy are more likely to develop colon disorders. This is important evidence of brain-gut interactions. The brain and gut speak to each other through a network of neural constantly, hormonal and immunological messages. But this healthy communication can be disturbed whenever we stress or develop chronic inflammation in our guts.
Stress can influence the type of bacteria inhabiting the gut, making our bowel flora less diverse and possibly more appealing to harmful bacteria. It can increase inflammation in the bowel also, and vulnerability to infection. Persistent intestinal inflammation might lower our level of sensitivity to positive emotions. When we become sick with conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, our brains become rewired through a process called neuroplasticity, which changes the connections between the nerve signals.
Anxiety and depression are normal in people suffering chronic bowel problems. Approximately 20% of these living with inflammatory bowel disease report sense stressed or blue for extended periods of time. Interestingly, in a recently available large study where we noticed 2,007 people living with inflammatory colon disease over nine years, we found a strong association between symptoms of depression or nervousness and disease activity over time.