IBS and mental health: Is there a link between Irritable Bowel Syndrome and depression?
IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is an uneasy and debilitating condition that leads to frequent abdominal pain and cramping along with issues such as constipation and diarrhoea. People suffering from IBS often feel strong urges to use the restroom occasionally. The condition can sometimes get so chronic that it can hamper the quality of life of people as they start avoiding social gatherings where there is no easy access to washrooms. Alongside, patients mostly start fearing the food they eat outside to avoid any IBS triggers and that makes them less likely to socialize. This leads to a vicious loop of anxiety, depression, uneasiness, avoidance and vigilance.
Health Shots contacted Dr Dimple Jangda, gut health and an Ayurvedic expert, to understand if there is a link between IBS and depression.
IBS can lead to depression, explains the expert
Dr Jangda goes on to explain the link between IBS and depression by pointing out its rationale found in Ayurveda. She adds that the link has also been proven by modern science.
She explains, “Around 90 percent of the diseases are caused due to an unhealthy gut and leaky gut syndrome. This was written in Ayurveda 5000 years ago and is now proven by modern science as well in recent years. Ayurveda said this years ago in its Vedic texts that ‘vata’ is responsible for movement and is made of air and space. Also, it is also responsible for creating dryness and roughness in the body.”
Dr Jangda adds that this further leads to a dry colon, dry skin, frizzy or rough hair, and a dry nervous system. Vata is dominant in the colon, and now when the colon becomes unhealthy because of issues like IBS, diarrhoea, leaky gut syndrome or constipation, the colon starts leaking all the toxins into the bloodstream. Since the blood carries all these toxins to important organs such as the heart, liver, kidney, intestines, gall bladder and even the brain, it can cause blockages of channels in your nervous system.
IBS leads to malnourishment and mental health issues
Further, she goes on to explain how this leads to blockages in the blood vessels and can trigger psychosomatic imbalances like anxiety or depression. When your colon is unhealthy, that provokes you to run to the bathroom every now and then. This leads to malnourishment or malabsorption syndrome as your gut is not able to absorb all the nutrients from the food you eat.
Your body then goes into a defence mechanism, saving all the nutrients for all the important parts of the body like the heart, liver, kidney, intestine, and gall bladder. So, this leaky gut syndrome means that there is not enough nutrition for your skin, hair or brain. Now, when all of this takes a backseat, this can lead to various mental or emotional health issues as well.
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Vata in the colon is responsible for our mental agility and capabilities
IBS, and leaky gut syndrome can all lead to toxic blood that further leads to malnutrition syndrome which then leads to psychosomatic imbalances. The ‘vata’ that is there in our colon is also responsible for our mental health capabilities like our ability to think, adapt, create new things, be creative, be intellectual and grasp/learn new things.
Now, when our colon gets affected, ‘vata’ that lives in the colon gets triggered, and our mental health also gets compromised leading to mental health issues. As per Ayurveda, an unhealthy colon is responsible for a majority of our health issues starting from depression, anxiety and stress to gynaecological disorders to gastric disorders to bronchial diseases and diseases of the colon and skin. So, both modern science and Ayurveda link IBS directly to depression.