Mood Disorders with or with GI symptoms

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. affecting over 40 million adults. Depression affects a high number as well and is estimated to be around 18 million adults in the U.S. Many of these patients may also suffer from panic attacks, insomnia, and other health problems.

The gut and brain are very intimately connected. Our body produces over 90% of its serotonin in the gut! Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to keep us happy and motivated and also gets converted into melatonin which helps us sleep at night. There is a major connection between how the gut functions and how this can affect moods.

Have you ever gotten a stomachache before an exam, presentation, or meeting? Maybe you’ve noticed your child complains they get a “tummy-ache” when they are nervous or don’t want to do something. This is a simple example of understanding how our brain and gut are connected.

Numerous anxiety, depressive, panic, and even pain disorders like fibromyalgia are associated with changes or imbalances in the microbiome.

It IS possible to manage your anxiety and depression without the use of medication. This needs to be done with a qualified professional and should not be done alone. However, do not discontinue any medications without the help of your prescribing physician first.

Symptoms may include (but not limited to):

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • Insomnia/difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Fatigue
  • Weight problems
  • Abdominal discomfort/pain
  • Bloating/gas
  • Brain fog
  • Difficulty staying on task or concentrating
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of desire to get out of bed
  • Feelings of “racing thoughts” when trying to sleep
  • A feeling of “can’t turn your brain off”
  • Anxiety after eating meals 
  • Dizzy upon standing up
  • Heart palpitations
  • Amenorrhea
  • Menstrual Cycle Issues 
  • Changes in bowels

Causes May Include:

  • Underlying Infection – This can affect your body’s ability to produce appropriate levels of digestive enzymes and secretions. This can promote overgrowth of bacteria, some of these bacteria can worsen mood disorders.
  • Neurotransmitter Dysfunction—Changes to your neurotransmitters can have a significant impact on your mood. These changes may stem from underlying infections, poor diet, heavy meal toxicity or something else.
  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)—Overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine can cause gas and bloating, this may occur with or without eating meals. Bloating may be above the belly button, below the belly button, or both.
  • Toxins/Heavy Metals—Heavy metal toxicity is common and can cause numerous neurological symptoms ranging from depression and anxiety to ADHD and Autism.
  • Antibiotics—Antibiotics can change the microbiome and can lead to overgrowth of certain bacteria that can worsen moods.
  • Thyroid Disorders—Common symptoms of low functioning thyroid are brain fog and depression. This can further exacerbate symptoms associated with mood disorders.

Complications May Include:

  • Poor absorption of nutrients
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Increased food sensitivities
  • Weight gain/inability to lose weight
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Poor sleep/insomnia

To make a diagnosis, your doctor may order extensive laboratory testing to evaluate the gut microbiome and/or your neurotransmitter production, and may perform a physical. Your doctor will use this information to create a treatment plan that is specific to YOU.


Treatment May Include:

  • Addressing Lifestyle Changes
    • Exercise recommendations
    • Stress management techniques
    • Light therapy to improve circadian rhythms
  • Addressing Underlying GI infections
    • Antimicrobials- To eliminate bacterial infections
    • Antivirals- To eliminated viral infections
    • Antifungals- To eliminated fungal infections
    • Antiparasitic- To eliminate parasitic infections
  • Improving Neurotransmitter Production
    • L-theanine- An amino acid that is “calming” to the brain
    • Kava Kava- A root that is used to improve serotonin production in the brain
    • GABA- An amino acid that has a “calming” effect on the brain

Although anxiety and depression, it’s cause can vary from person to person. People may or may not have all of the symptoms listed above. That’s why it’s important to work with someone who can take a thorough approach to managing your case. It is NOT normal to have anxiety or depression so regularly that it affects your ability to function or maintain relationships. Schedule a call with one of our doctors to discuss this further.