Anxiety Has A Lot To Do With Your Gut Than Your Head

Abigail Miller reveals that anxiety is manipulation of the stability of bacteria in your gut that impacts behavior which is like anxiety, but this is the first time when this theory is linked to the brain as well. Anxiety is slowly gulping in a large number of populations only in America itself. 40 million adults that are 18% of the total adult population suffer from anxiety. In the last two decades, there has been a steep growth of almost 67% in the anxiety disorders. This has become the most common form of mental illness in America as per the Anxiety Depression Association of America (ADAA). The worst part is yet to come; only 37% of the anxiety disorder gets treated properly.

When the anxiety disorder term is used, it means one of the below-mentioned conditions:

  • Panic Disorder (PD)
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
  • Specific phobias
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

People who are suffering from depression can also suffer from anxiety at the same time. More than $40 million is being invested every year towards insurance spikes and the health care costs.

The Harvard Medical School (HMS) issued an article “The Gut-Brain Connection” where they have revealed that chemical imbalance in the brain is not the root cause of all the mental illness. It further states that:

  • The signal is being exchanged between the gut and the brain
  • Intestinal or stomach pain interferes the brain-gut and the gut-brain signalling or the transmission
  • If the interference in the signal is very high, then stomach pain can be caused due to depression or stress or anxiety

90% or more of serotonin, a neurochemical that is in charge of the mood, is created in the gut, and countless neuron (that is the special cells that are responsible for transferring nerve impulses) is lined in the gut. This allows the gut to act with the central nervous system that is the brain and mostly this work happens alongside the gut-brain axis.

Billions of healthy bacteria are found in the human Gastrointestinal (GI) which is known as the gut flora. This gut flora helps in normalizing the gut functions like the vitamin synthesis, mineral and vitamin absorption, digestion, inflammatory synthesis, and mineral synthesis. This is the reason whenever there is any problem with the mental or physical health of humans, the gut-brain axis is being studied thoroughly. Studies have revealed that mental health gets affected by the gut bacteria. The University of Cork (Ireland) genes that are responsible for encoding proteins (Gene regulators) plays a major role in anxiety disorders and vice versa. A study on the mice revealed that due to an inadequate supply of good gut bacteria, high anxiety was caused by the gene regulator named microRNA (miRNA)

These are some of the findings from the study:

  • When miRNA is injected into mice, it increases the anxiety symptoms
  • For regulating miRNA properly a good balance of gut bacteria is important
  • Anxiety in human beings may have a direct connection with miRNA
  • Treatments don’t target the brain, instead, it is more focused on the gut

This is the first time that the University of Cork is associating gut microbial balance to various regions of the brain. The lead author, Dr Gerald Clark reasons that important processes of the brain regions like the pre-frontal cortex and amygdala and the central nervous system can get affected by the miRNAs. In our brain, the amygdala is the one which controls our emotions. It looks like a small and simple walnut. This is the region of the brain that is responsible for all kinds of planning, social behavior, decision making and several other works like these. Now the scientists are working on the replication of these important feelings that would eventually lead to the relief from anxiety and depression.