Study results from Stanford University School of Medicine concluded that depression and anxiety may result from digestive irritation early in life. The findings suggest that some psychological conditions may be the result of gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.
There is a strong mind-body connection and internal organs are particularly vulnerable during early development. The study does not conclude that all stomach irritation will lead to lifelong psychological problems. However, researchers’ claim that factors such as, 1) when it occurs during development and 2) the genetic makeup of the affected, person may predict the onset of certain mental health conditions. In particular, the viscera, or internal organs, are particularly vulnerable early in development.
This is fairly big news since conventional treatment has supported the idea that stress hormones associated with a patient’s anxious or depressed mood was responsible for digestive disturbances. Researchers now believe that the stomach has its own nervous system that is relatively independent and communication between the stomach and the adult brain bi-directional. This supports additional research that has linked depression and anxiety to changes in the composition of stomach bacterial populations.
Research is now focusing on how signals in the stomach create changes in the brain, and if we should develop additional treatments for depression and anxiety. Treatments may include electrical stimulation of the brain to treat chronic and resistant depression, which has been approved by the FDA and is offered by one area clinic in Fargo, ND.