Healthy Living

Does Depression Lead To Chronic Constipation?

When you think of other conditions that may be linked to depression, chronic constipation may be the one of the last things on your mind. And understandably so, since mental health conditions like depression are often linked to or is the result of other mental health conditions, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, or even some addictive behaviors. In rare cases, it can also be a side effect of drugs.

However, throughout the years, scientists are finding more and more reasons that link depression to chronic constipation. And now thanks to new research, scientists may have just found the reason why.

Led by Dr. Kara Gross Margolis, the researchers came from New York’s Columbia University Irving Medical Center to further study the correlation between these two. More specifically, the researchers say that they’re interested in serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter.

According to the researchers, they were particularly interested in researching about serotonin because people who are suffering from depression are usually thought to have low levels of it.

This is the same serotonin that can be found in our gastrointestinal tract, which can be found in the stomach. Surprisingly, because our stomachs have more neurons than the spinal cord, some scientists refer to it as our “second brain.”

Looking for a link to these two, the researchers then went ahead and made experiments on some mice test subjects, particularly a mouse model of depression, which have a gene mutation similar to that of the ones that humans with depression have.

The researchers then reduced serotonin in the mice, which caused the neurons to decrease and the gut to deteriorate.

“Basically, the mice were constipated, and they showed the same kind of GI changes we see in people with constipation,” Dr. Margolis explained.

The researchers also tested a drug meant to produce 5-HTP, which is an amino acid that can help boost serotonin levels.

“We see a reduction of neurons in the GI tract with age, and that loss is thought to be a cause of constipation in the elderly. The idea that we may be able to use slow release 5-HTP to treat conditions that require the development of new neurons in the gut may open a whole new avenue of treatment,” said Dr. Margolis, who believes that pretty soon they can continue their work with the drug and advance on to human trials.

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