The link between depression and constipation
February 19, 2020 | Farah Jassawalla

The link between depression and constipation

اردو میں پڑھیں 

In recent times, researchers have found a direct correlation between depression and chronic constipation, but they have not fully understood the relationship. The discovery was made when doctors at an unnamed hospital in Australia found that many of their patients reporting chronic constipation came in with a lower mood than their usual patients. People with depression commonly experience gut problems, but patients with chronic constipation suffer from depression at a much higher rate than usual. In fact, nearly a third of depression patients also have chronic constipation.

What is chronic constipation?

Constipation is when bowel movements that take place are infrequent and hard to pass as stools. It is one of the most commonly experienced digestive problems worldwide and can make patients feel bloated, irritated, and headachy. Chronic constipation is a more extreme form of constipation, where a person passes stool less than three times a week for up to several months.

What is depression?

Although the public is becoming more aware of mental health and depression, many people aren't aware of where to draw between sadness or depression. Sadness is classified as a temporary mood that causes a person to feel down, while depression is classified as an unyielding sense of sadness that occurs for an extended period. Since sadness can also feel unyielding or happen for a long time, it creates a thin line between sadness and depression. Most health experts state that what separates sadness from depression is that depression patients experience a persistent loss of interest or isolation from life events.

Why is there a link between the two?

Researchers at Cambridge have found that low levels of serotonin in the gut give rise to constipation, and coincidentally people with depression also have low amounts of serotonin but in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that is used to transmit messages between nerves, so high quantities of serotonin are associated with good wellbeing, better muscle functions, and happiness. It is unknown whether low levels of serotonin due to depression causes constipation or vice versa, but with the link between depression and constipation being heavily investigated, a definitive answer may be available soon. Some scientists reject this explanation by declaring that the link between constipation and depression is a result of depression patients taking less care of their physical health and diet, consequently leading to constipation. Whatever the explanation may be, the bottom line is that depression and constipation come hand in hand, hence curing one is essential to healing the other.

How to increase serotonin levels?

Serotonin levels can be raised in several ways:

  1. Regular exercise: Exercising has been linked with higher serotonin levels since exercising leads to greater levels of tryptophan, which is an amino acid that manufactures serotonin. Additionally, regular exercise reduces weight, thus minimizing the impact of a risk factor related to depression overweightness or obesity.
  2. Supplements: A few supplements, such as 5-HTP supplements have been found to elevate serotonin levels throughout the body. 
  3. Omega 3 acid: Omega 3 acid is a fatty acid primarily found in fish, which also raises serotonin quantities in addition to regulating sleep. It can also be consumed through supplements.
  4. Vitamin D: Vitamin D bolsters the body's natural serotonin production, so it is helpful in curing depression and chronic constipation. It is found in several food sources like animal liver, cereal, eggs, and cheese, and it exists in sunlight too. 

To conclude, there is a direct link between depression and constipation, which is still being heavily researched by scientists, but it has been confirmed that one health problem causes the other. Although there are no certain treatment methods that can solve depression and constipation together, it is generally agreed upon that raising serotonin levels in the body through exercise, supplements, higher omega 3 acid, and vitamin D consumption can improve health. It possibly cures both depression and constipation. Despite this, if you are suffering from chronic constipation and/or depression, it is best that you visit a doctor who can help you solve each health problem effectively.

Recommended Packages

Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.