Anxiety · Social Commentary

Anxiety, the Stomach and…Mice?


Recent research has made interesting discoveries when it comes to linking anxiety and depression to the happenings in a person’s stomach. This is an excerpt from

They examined two groups of mice — one with normal, healthy gut bacteria and another that had no gut bacteria. Mice in each group were exposed to early-life stress, such as being separated from their mothers for three hours every day between the ages of three to 21 days.

Interestingly, the mice with normal gut bacteria developed high levels of the stress hormone corticosterone — then developed anxiety, depression, and impaired gut function. But the mice who had no gut bacteria, while they showed high levels of corticosterone, didn’t end up exhibiting anxiety or depression later on. When the researchers transferred gut bacteria from stressed mice to those that were stressed but had no gut bacteria, it triggered both anxiety and depression.

(Palma G, Blennerhasset P, Deng J, Park A, Green W, Denou E. Microbiota and host determinants of behavioral phenotype in maternally separated mice. Nature Communications. 2015.)

Of course, this has only been tested with mice so it’s difficult to tell how this will relate to the human stomach and brain. However, mice have proven extremely useful in the past when it comes to researching cancer, vaccines, and many other diseases. That isn’t always so, though. It is important to note that there have been times were drugs were effective in mice but not with humans.

When new research findings come out, I’m always a bit dubious. These findings, though, make a lot of sense. I’ve always felt that there was a huge connection between my anxiety and my stomach. Before I started taking medicine, I would have wake up in the middle of the night with stomach pain and nauseous. Even now, when I suddenly get anxious my stomach immediately reacts with discomfort. This new research could have serious implications for the way that anxiety and depression are treated. Medicines may start targeting the stomach rather than the brain, eliminating a major reason some people don’t want to take anti-depressants  and anti-anxiety medicine. This also opens up the question as to whether just eating certain foods with good bacteria in them can cure these disorders.

What do you think of this research? How do you think this will affect the future of anxiety treatment?




4 thoughts on “Anxiety, the Stomach and…Mice?

  1. hey, this research (called leaky gut theory) is actually finding that it leaky guts preceed inflammation in the bodies–the kind of inflammation the inflammation theory is centered around. So, the parasympathetic nervous system doesn’t get a chance to have the body rest and disgest. it’s known as sympathetic overdrive. the leaky gut means the body is constantly stressed, even if you think you are relaxed. This is why people with depression and/or anxiety report a change in appetite or even comorbidity with IBS, skin diseases, etc. So, the gut (not really just the stomach) and the brain are two of the most intimate organs in our bodies, and perhaps the brain would rate this this most important relationship because the gut feeds the body.
    From, an ex-psych major

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey!

      I used stomach because the word gut – for some reason grosses me out. I’ve never heard of the leaky gut theory, I did a lot of research, well tried to, and I only found a few articles about it. Thank you for the information!! It’s such an interesting topic. 🙂 ~K.D.


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