Constipation and depression have a history of coinciding with each other. Is it coincidence or is there an underlying reason? Constipation can be a painful and troublesome condition, but does it cause clinical depression? And on the other hand, can depression actually cause constipation? I hope to help lay these questions to rest for any one suffering from these two conditions.
We should first look at what the diagnosis for constipation consists of. Constipation is when the individual has two or fewer bowel movements within a week. If three days pass with no bowel movement, it could pose a serious health risk. The stool will continue to harden the longer itâs in the body, making it even more difficult to expel. Patients are also considered constipated if they experience hard stools, straining or incomplete evacuations 25% of the time they do have bowel movements.
Depression can be the result of numerous factors. Lifestyle changes, eating habits, loss of a loved one and health issues can play a huge role in depression cases. Depression can also be rather difficult to diagnose in many cases. Understanding the signs and symptoms of both of these conditions will help you to have a better understanding of what to look for, how to deal with them and how to prevent them.
How to tell if you may be Depressed
The two most obvious symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness or hopelessness and a general loss of interest in daily activities that usually bring pleasure. Depression can be difficult to diagnose properly because it truly is a condition of extremes. It can cause weight gain or weight loss. It can cause insomnia or the sufferer may want to sleep all day. It can cause pain to move while at the same time causing restlessness. And yes, it can cause constipation or diarrhea.
Depression affects the bodyâs entire system, not just the emotional aspect. It causes the digestive system to function improperly. Headaches and bodily pain are commonplace. In a state of depression, the brain actually isnât functioning the way itâs supposed to. Itâs no wonder that depressed individuals feel as though the world is falling down around them. In a sense, it really is.
In the brain, there are two chemicals that affect your mood. Serotonin and norepinephrine. These two chemicals work as transmitters, sending signals from the brain to the nerves in the body. When there is a deficiency in these chemicals, the signals donât get sent and it throws everything off. Itâs interesting to note, that in most cases, the body can actually fix the problem itself. Unfortunately, it can take 1 to 3 years for that to happen and deeply depressed sufferers canât wait that long.
To replace the depleted serotonin and norepinephrine levels, patients are usually prescribed Antidepressants. One of the main side effects of Antidepressants is constipation.
Why constipation makes us feel depressed
While constipation in and of itself does not cause clinical depression, it can cause someone to feel depressed. The reason is again because of the chemicals in the brain. Constipation prohibits food nutrients from being absorbed by the body. These nutrients are needed for the brain to produce the right amount of serotonin and norepinephrine. When constipated for a long period, the lining of the small intestine can actually build up a layer of toxins that fully prevent any nutrients from being absorbed. Toxins that are normally expelled by the body through bowel movements now have nowhere to go but to be re-absorbed by the body, making matters even worse.
Women are prime targets for both conditions, especially while pregnant. The bodyâs hormones are going so berserk that depression is rarely not seen during or after pregnancy. Another stage in a womanâs life that brings on depression is menopause. Itâs been shown that estrogen provokes dramatic changes in the brainâs activity.
What can be done to prevent constipation and depression?
When youâre not feeling good, or feeling depressed about something, the most common thing people tend to do is head for some comfort food. Itâs usually heavy and unhealthy but totally delicious, right? Unfortunately, those foods, when eaten in large quantities, wreck havoc on an already delicate gastrointestinal situation. It makes it almost inevitable that when youâre depressed, youâll also end up constipated. Itâs a vicious circle that many get stuck in.
The chances of becoming constipated and/or depressed can be dramatically lowered by eating a healthy diet and following a regular exercise routine. Avoiding alcohol and drugs can save the body from many traumas, both mental and physical. Try to follow a regular sleep pattern. Most importantly, if you begin to feel depressed, or have thoughts of suicide, you need to seek help as soon as possible.
The Colon Cleansing & Constipation Resource Center