Just like diet and lifestyle, your mood can also be one of the causes of IBS
Walking out of the toilet with relief and a joyous mood is rare for some people and IBS is to blame.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a very common, chronic gastrointestinal disorder.
Roughly 11.2% of adults in the world suffer from it. There are different causes of IBS.
IBS is characterized by-
- Repeated episodes of abdominal pain
- Altered bowel habits
- Not able to empty bowel
- Hard stool
- Upset gut
A happy gut is directly related to a happy mood. But you must have noted that constipation tends to bring out your grumpy side and act as one of the psychological causes of IBS.
So, one thing is sure: bad gut = bad mood!
So, does your gut affect your mood, or is the other way around also true? Let’s find out!
The mind-gut chemistry
Are you one of those people who often get anxious before a big day or an event that results in frequent visits to the bathroom?
When something stressful happens do you feel churning in your stomach?
Or do you feel ‘butterflies’ in your belly when excited?
If yes, then your gut is responding to the stress and anxiety-ridden signals sent out by your brain in response to the kind of emotions you are feeling.
It differs in severity from person to person.
Your gut is your second brain
Your second brain is located in your gut. It is also called the Enteric nervous system (ENS). Made of two thin layers, ENS contains more than 100 million nerve cells.
These nerve cells are lined in your gastrointestinal tract, running from your esophagus (food pipe) and all the way down to your rectum.
So your gut reacts to you just like your brain when exposed to certain psychological factors or emotions.
Now do you understand why they say, “Trust your gut?”
This gut-brain connection is established both physically and chemically, sending messages back and forth all the time.
The interplay of mood disorders & IBS
The microbiome present in your gut largely affects these chemical signals. 100 trillions of these microorganisms live in your gastrointestinal tract containing various types of virus bacteria and fungi which are very important for your gut and general health as well as your mood.
These fungi in your GI are responsible for manufacturing about 95 percent of the body’s supply of serotonin; serotonin is a hormone that helps to stabilize moods, regulate feelings of well-being and happiness, regulate anxiety, and control sleep.
When you have that many factors acting as the causes of IBS, you can not predict when you may have the need to visit the loo unexpectedly. This may mess up your socialization habits and can put you under immense pressure.
People with IBS often have to go through shame, guilt, and anger and even keep their condition private. Life stress can stimulate colon spasms, resulting in abdominal discomfort at stressful times
This affects your mood which can then affect your gut in return. It is an interrelated connection.
Ways in which mood affects IBS indirectly
Now that you have understood how the mind (emotional state) and gut (in IBS) affect each other and act as the causes of IBS let’s understand how your mental state can indirectly worsen IBS.
Depression is known to cause people to lose appetite and interest in the things they once used to enjoy. You may skip meals and reduce your fluid intake which may result in constipation.
Depression is observed to negatively impact your immunity. This increases your chances of gut infection. A disturbance in the microbiome constitution in the digestive system can disrupt its healthy functioning and you may experience bloating, cramps or diarrhea.
Stress and anxiety
The effect of stress on IBS is almost universally recognized by clinicians and patients.
Also, when you are emotionally disturbed your sleep cycle is affected. You may not sleep properly and stay up late at night. Being a night owl may affect your natural dosha cycle. Ideally, between 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. is used in the repair of the liver and digestion of emotions.
So, by losing your sleep by stress, anxiety or lifestyle you are not allowing your body to rest well which upsets your digestion and worsens your IBS.
Stress & anxiety management can help you deal with IBS.
How to improve mood and also cure causes of IBS?
There are many ways to boost your mood if you have been feeling low-
- Calm your overworked nerves by practising Pranayama, a breathing technique that also pacifies your dosha.
- Practice yoga asanas to strengthen your gut and relax your body and mind.
- Try natural remedies by ayurveda
- Sleep on time and wake up on time. Take proper rest and fight insomnia with these natural tips and foods.
- Avoid foods that mess up with your gut, they may be different for each one of you based on your IBS type and ayurvedic body type.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid drinking water right after meals.
You have learned how various psychological factors can adversely affect your IBS symptoms and the reverse is also true. Your gut, the second brain, also affects your mood and causes mental disorders like irritation and anger.
When treating the worse symptoms, the right causes of IBS need to be recognized. You will also need to watch both your dietary and lifestyle habits along with your emotions.
Is IBS just anxiety?
It could be one of the causes of IBS. Observe your pattern of the disorder. How does your gut react when you are stressed or anxious? Your emotions and gut both can be managed with a healthy diet and lifestyle. you can practice meditation to stay calm and deal with IBS or just even normal gut problems like mild constipation or diarrhea. But if you experience abdominal cramps you may need to see a doctor.
Is IBS psychological or physiological?
Both. Gut and mood health are affected by each other. Stress and anxiety can, directly and indirectly, affect the gut, similarly, improper digestion can alter your hormones and thus affect mood. So, there are both psychological and physiological causes of IBS simultaneously.
What happens if IBS goes untreated?
Untreated can mess with your overall health in the long term. Your emotional health is the first to suffer, soon bad digestive system results in weakened immunity and other hormonal problems like obesity. It can even cause discomfort in the colon and cause cancer. Regular constipation leads to accumulated ama/body toxins and can throw your dosha off