Constipation due to depression

Does depression cause constipation?
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Doctor Answers (1) on Constipation due to depression

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Ms. Swati Kapoor Bangalore | Dietitian/Nutritionist
It is common to hear that people who are chronically constipated get depressed, but is the vice versa is also true.In depression there is a general slow down of your body metabolism and proccesses and this could lead to slowing down of your bowel movements which inturn cause constipation. Proving this relationship between the two is quite a task for clinicians because it is difficult to prove which of the two comes first, i.e constipation can cause depression also and depression can cause constipation. Studies have proven though that the incidence of gastrointestinal disorders one of which is constipation is higher amongst individuals having mood disorders. One such study where Fifty four constipated patients were recruited from patients referred to the motility disorder department of Research Center for Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases, and screened for psychiatric disorders using HADS (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and MINI (Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview).The results showed a relatively high prevalence of anxiety and depression both in HADS (33.3% and 22.2% respectively) and MINI (33.3% and 31.5% respectively). This clearly shows that the two are related. There are several theories that have been proposed as to why depression causes constipation. --> Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which is involved in mood regulation.A neurotransmitter is basically a chemical which tells what part of your brain to function at what time. In depression it has been proved that there is deficit amounts of serotonin. Now in our body apart from the brain, serotonin is found in next highest concentration in the gut. Deficit amount of serotonin means defective functioning of the gut which could lead to constipation.Meds typically do very little to improve symptoms because if the gut isn't healed, the rest of the body can't heal. This is why it's so important to try and find the root cause of gut problems instead of just using medicines to mask the symptoms. --> Stress makes you tense, tension causes muscle tightness, muscle tightness can lead to cramping and IBS and IBS can lead to constipation which makes you more stressed and the knot just keeps tightening.The thing is you have a lot of the same cells in your gut that you have in your brain. It's called the Enteric Nervous System. And it's quite complex to understand it all.There is some evidence that antidepressants can help with IBS. --> Ongoing low-level stress and anxiety suppress the gastrocolic reflex which is an unconscious action by the gastrointestinal tract that precedes a bowel movements, people in moderate-stress situations, such as weddings, entrance exams, lawsuits, job problems, and endless others tend to suppress the urge to move their bowels;a truly high stress situation often causes diarrhea that, in turn, disrupts bowel movements and hence causes constipation. --> Another interesting theory in favour of this is that many people with depression often self-medicate themselves with illicit drugs or alcohol,All of these lifestyle enhancers not only blunt life‘s stresses, but also the entire GI tract, and that is why constipation is one of the most prominent side effects of mood-enhancing drugs, whether prescription or illicit. Alcohol action is even worse — it dehydrates stools and suppresses intestinal peristalsis all at once. I hope all the above theories have satisfactorily convinced you that indeed depression can cause constipation and if you are facing the above two it is advised you make a visit to a psychiatrist.
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