Feeling anxious? Your gut bacteria might be to blame

Posted at 6:49 PM, Aug 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-25 18:49:35-04

When you’re nervous you often feel it in the gut. A new study looking at gut bacteria and anxiety-like behaviors in mice found a new level of communication. 

Trillions of microbes in the gut could influence microRNAs.  MicroRNA’s are biological molecules found in certain parts of the brain. 

Researchers reported mice that were bred in germ-free conditions were more likely to suffer with abnormal anxiety, depression, and have social and cognitive issues.

Mice and humans are very different.  But dysfunction in microRNAs may contribute to stress-related psychiatric disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. 

Scientists may one day be able to treat psychiatric disorders by influencing microRNAs in the brain, but more research is needed before any of this can be used in a clinical setting.  And they still need to find how the gut microbes influence the microRNAs.

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life and there are some lifestyle changes that can help. Here are my prescriptions:

Get enough physical exercise.  It will not only lift your mood, it’s also a powerful stress reducer.

When you feel anxious, take action.  Go for a walk, try visualization techniques or meditation as these can all help ease anxiety.

Learn what triggers your anxiety.  Keep a diary to help identify what’s causing your stress.

Don’t turn to substances like alcohol, drugs, or nicotine to manage nervousness.  They can worsen and create more anxiety.

It’s important to not suffer in silence.  Please get help if you feel worry, fear or anxiety is hard to control, if you’re having suicidal thoughts, if you feel depressed, or if it interferes with your daily life. 

Please talk to your doctor or a mental health provider.  It’s easier to treat if you seek help early.