Emotions are Affecting our Stomach
Ever "gone with your gut" when making a decision? You’re probably receiving signals from your gastrointestinal tract, which communicates directly with your brain…
 
It’s widely recognised that emotions can directly affect stomach function. As early as 1915, influential physiologist Walter Cannon noted that stomach functions are changed in animals when frightened. The same is true for humans. Those who stress a lot often report diarrhea or stomach pain.
 
We now know this is because the brain communicates with the gastrointestinal system. A whole ecosystem comprising 100 trillion bacteria living in our bowels is an active participant in this brain-gut chat.
 
Recent discoveries around this relationship have made us consider using talk therapy and antidepressants as possible treatments for symptoms of chronic gut problems. The aim is to interfere with the conversation between the two organs by telling the brain to repair the faulty bowel.
 
Our research found talk therapy can improve depression and the quality of life of patients with gastrointestinal conditions. Antidepressants may also have a beneficial effect on both the course of a bowel disease and accompanying anxiety and depression.
 
 
What are gastrointestinal conditions?
 
Gastrointestinal conditions are incredibly common. About 20% of adults and adolescents suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disorder where abdominal discomfort or pain go hand-in-hand with changes in bowel habits. These could involve chronic diarrhea and constipation, or a mixture of the two.
 
IBS is a so-called functional disorder, because while its symptoms are debilitating, there are no visible pathological changes in the bowel. So it is diagnosed based on symptoms rather than specific diagnostic tests or procedures. People with chronic gut conditions can experience severe pain that affects their quality of life
 
Subtypes of inflammatory bowel disease are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Around five million people worldwide, and more than 75,000 in Australia, live with these conditions. This is contrary to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a condition where the immune sy

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