Upset Stomach & Serotonin Levels
[Home] [Bipolar News] [Bipolar Disorder] [Medications] [Treatments] [Bipolar Disorder/Job/School] [Disabilities] [Ask the Doctor] [Ask David] [Self-Injury] [Personal Stories] [Graham's Column] [Steven's Column] [Storm's Column] [Columnist Archives] [Suicide] [Community Support] [Family Members] [Expressions] [Greeting Cards] [Books] [Awards] [Links & Rings] [About Us] [Contact Us]


Q:  Is it true that when your stomach is upset it affects your serotonin levels which affects your depression, (mental state of mind)? Is serotonin produce in your stomach also?

Dear Carol -- 
Serotonin, you're right, is a very common transmitter in the gastrointestinal tract -- not produced in the stomach, but by the nerve cells which regulate the stomach and much of the rest of the gut.  But is it true that when your stomach is upset, this affects serotonin somehow? 

More likely it's the other way around, but first we'd have to decide what we mean by the stomach being "upset".  For the moment, let me assume that this means some sort of pain in your abdomen (you might also have meant nausea, or pain more specifically confined to the region of the stomach). There are many possible causes of such pain, but one of the most common, and one that travels very frequently with complex mood problems, is called "irritable bowel syndrome", or IBS for short. 

IBS is an example of a condition that worsens when mood symptoms worsen, and improves when mood symptoms improve.  So in this case, it's more like the brain gets better first, then the stomach, if you will -- rather than the other way around.  But just what role serotonin plays in this drama is still pretty unclear: even in the brain it's not exactly clear, although there is more information on this in the last 5 years (described on my website in the section on the Brain Chemistry of Depression -- Part Two).  As for what and how serotonin is acting on the gut in IBS, I haven't looked at that research in quite a while, but I  think that story is equally complicated.  

The bottom line: yes, you're right, there is a complex interplay between the gut and the brain. In some respects, they act as though they're connected -- which of course they are, both chemically and through nerve cell connections.  Exactly how that interplay goes, though; and what role serotonin is playing; is still not very clear. 

Dr. Phelps

Published March, 2006


Bipolar World   1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Allie Bloom, David Schafer, M.Ed. (Blackdog)
Partners:  John Haeckel, Judith (Duff) 
Founder:  Colleen Sullivan

Email Us at Bipolar World


About Us  Add a Link  Advance Directives  Alternative Treatments  Ask the Doctor   Ask Dr. Plyler about Bipolar Disorder   Ask The Doctor/ Topic Archives  Awards  Benny the Bipolar Puppy  Bipolar Chat  Bipolar Children  Bipolar Disorder News  Bipolar Help Contract  Bipolar World Forums  Book Reviews  Bookstore  BP & Other mental Illness   Clinical Research Trials & FDA Drug Approval   Community Support   Contact Us  The Continuum of Mania and Depression   Coping   Criteria    Criteria and Diagnosis  Criteria-World Health Disabilities,  DSMV-IV   Dual Diagnosis  eGroups  Expressions (Poetry, Inspiration, Humor, Art Gallery, Memorials  Family Members   Getting Help for a Loved One who Refuses Treatment  Greeting Cards  History of Mental Illness  Indigo  Job and School  Links  Manage Your Medications  Medications   Medication and Weight Gain    News of the Day  Parent Chat  Pay for Meds  Personal Stories  Self Help  Self Injury  Significant Others  Stigma and Mental Health Law  Storm's Column  Suicide!!!  The Suicide Wall  Table of Contents   Treatments  Treatment Compliance  US Disability  Veteran's Chat  What's New?