Depression is gaining more awareness in America but the causes are still largely misunderstood. A group of researchers set out to determine that depression is not only a neurological disorder but directly linked to gut health. Typically, people have believed that depression is associated with a deficiency in monoamine neurotransmitters. Monoamines include dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin. Dopamine affects the body’s movement and various cognitive processes like memory, motivation, and attention. Noradrenaline plays a role in regulating cardiovascular movement, memory, concentration, and arousal. Serotonin is involved in muscle function, blood pressure, and temperature regulation; as well as impacting mood, appetite, sleep, perception, and hormone secretion. Disruption in serotonin levels are certainly affiliated with depression. However, the revelations in this new study should give us pause when attempting to identify the instigator of depressive behavior.

A New Villain to Consider

The research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reveals that people with major depressive disorder also have low-grade inflammation in their gut. The study compiled data from 14,275 people between 2007 and 2012 who were screened using the Patient Health Questionnaire to determine a diagnosis of depression. Participants then had their blood drawn and researchers found that those with depression had 46% higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is an indicator of inflammatory disease and draws the correlation between inflamed gut health and major depressive behavior. This new research supports previous studies that noted an increased state of depression and anxiety in participants who were given proinflammatory cytokines.

Symptoms of Depression

You may even notice some symptoms of depression when your body is in a naturally inflamed state while trying to fight off a cold. You may feel like your head is foggy, you have difficulty concentrating, feel overly tired, are unable to sleep well, and experience a more depressed mood. Someone with major depressive disorder may experience an uncontrollable sense of sadness, emptiness, anger, irritability, or a lack of energy—even to accomplish simple tasks. Many lose interest in things they once enjoyed, feel tired and lethargic, have an inability to concentrate or focus only on past mistakes and guilt. Suicidal thoughts or other unexplained physical problems may also take place. If you or your loved one has suicidal thoughts or attempts, seek help immediately.

Avoiding Depression

As new research indicates depression and depressive behavior is linked to gut health, there is hope for prevention. You can absolutely take control over your gut health ensuring you are physically and mentally healthy. Reducing inflammation in your gut is not easy, but it is doable! Try reducing your stress levels by exercising 2-3 times a day, or doing yoga to help your mind and body focus and relax. Breathing exercises help to reduce inflammation markers as well as your stress levels. Adjust your diet so that you consume more anti-inflammatory foods like leafy greens, tomatoes, almonds, fish, and berries. Cut out sodas, white bread and pastries, fried food, and red meat as these are known for causing inflammation.

If you feel that your mood may be affected by your gut health, don’t wait any longer to find a GI doctor near you. GI Associates has three convenient locations in the Jackson area and our team of specialists is dedicated to helping both your gut and your mind feel better. Schedule an appointment with us today.

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