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Gastrointestinal Difficulties and Mental Health

About Gastrointestinal Difficulties and Mental Health

When people are having difficulties with their gut health, they also may be contending with mental health difficulties.  Many of the neurotransmitters that assist us in feeling calm and content were once thought to solely be produced in the brain.  Newer research shows a significant portion of these neurotransmitters are also being produced in the gut.  Our gut and mental health are interconnected, so having coping strategies to help you manage emotional difficulties is beneficial.  Therapy complements conventional medical management and enhances outcome success. CBT, Mindfulness, and EMDR are all evidence-based treatments to help people contending with chronic physical discomfort.  The Cohen Clinic works in conjunction with Gastroenterologists to provide well-rounded healthcare to people in need.  If you see a Gastroenterologist, you can consult with them about how therapy can be effective for gastrointestinal difficulties. 

Common mental health difficulties that co-occur with gastrointestinal difficulties are:  

  • Generalized anxiety disorder

  • Health anxiety

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder

  • Physical reactivity to stress

  • Panic attacks 

  • Major depressive disorder

  • Dysthymia (persistent mild depression)

 

Take inventory of your symptoms. The following are common symptoms that co-occur with gastrointestinal difficulties: 

  • Constant and chronic worry about physical symptoms. 

  • Being hypervigilant (constant assessment) of one’s body and physical symptoms.

  • Avoiding certain activities for fear of triggering physical symptoms. 

  • Googling symptoms constantly.