Depression and the Brain-Gut Connection

Depression is an affliction that far too many of us has experienced, or will experience, first-hand. Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression.1 Whether it’s a chronic condition or a temporary situation the pain it instills is real and relief is often just out of reach. Quite likely, if you had to indicate your relationship status with depression, it would most likely be “it’s complicated.” One thing is for certain; when finding causes and relief, you need to look at your body’s whole picture and the mind is only one part.

One theory that is gaining momentum and warrants serious consideration is what’s commonly referred to as the brain-gut connection (gut, in this realm, encompasses the entire gastrointestinal tract). The great thing is, it’s a cause that can be remedied naturally without expensive medications and side effects.

The Gut: A Serotonin Factory

A little-known fact to the layman is that 95% of serotonin is found in the GI tract.2 Serotonin deficit is often blamed for depressive symptoms. This makes total sense when you consider the happier mood you feel after eating certain foods. These carbohydrate-rich “comfort foods” cause serotonin spikes in the gut, offering short-term relief. Often these foods are ones that cause long-term damage.

What came first?

We’ve long thought depression and mood wreak havoc on our digestion system. Is it possible the source of depression travels in the opposite direction, originating in the gut instead? In this way, the term gut reaction takes on a whole new meaning.

So many diseases stem from what we eat. There is no doubt that what we consume largely determines our health. In the case of depression, it may be a case of “what came first…the chicken or the egg?” (Side note: chicken and eggs are good food choices no matter which came first.) So, what it comes down to is, when looking at what may be causing your depression, a simple start would be to look at what’s on your plate.


Dr. Sasha Rose will be at Coastal on Thursday, May 12th to discuss the brain-gut connection and her book Digestive Relief for Life. The discussion is free and open to the public. Also, read Dr. Rose’s 2015 blog post The Secret of the Gut-Brain Connection.

For an in-depth look at the foods essential to a healthy gut (and brain) read the article titled Comfort Food for Your Brain by Mark Hyman, MD. Dr. Hyman is the medical director and founder of The UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. He explains what foods to eat and why in a way that’s easy to digest. Bon appétit!


  1. Depression: His Versus Hers. Retrieved from
  2. Carpenter, M.D., Siri. (2012, September). That gut feeling. Retrieved from

About the Author

Coastal Pharmacy & Wellness Staff

Coastal Pharmacy & Wellness Staff

Our staff specialties range from pharmaceuticals to nutritional health and wellness, to sports nutrition. We are here to share that knowledge. If we don't know immediately, we'll find out. Stop into the pharmacy or nutritional health and wellness department to ask questions relating to your specific needs, or send us an email.

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