A new study carried out by the University of Queensland has revealed an interesting link between depression and gut health. Specifically, they found those suffering with depression had an increased risk of Peptic Ulcer Disease.
While stress has long been blamed for the development of stomach ulcers, it seems depression could also be a culprit. Here, we will look at what the study found and what Peptic Ulcer Disease is.
What did the study find?
The study, published within the Nature Communications Channel, aimed to discover why some people are more likely to develop ulcers than others. The team analysed health data taken from the UK Biobank of 456,327 patients. They successfully identified eight genetic variations which were associated with the risk of Peptic Ulcer Disease.
Out of the eight variations discovered, six of them could link to why certain people are at an increased risk of the H. pylori infection. This infection is known to increase the risk of Peptic Ulcer Disease. One of the factors identified as an increased risk was depression.
The researchers believe that providing patients with accurate genetic risk scores would help them to come up with an effective prevention program.
What is Peptic Ulcer Disease?
Peptic Ulcer Disease is a condition in which ulcers, or open sores, develop within the first section of the small intestine. Most of the time it is caused by a bacterial infection which eats away at the digestive system’s protective lining.
Risk factors of the disease include frequently taking pain relieving medication, a family history of ulcers, smoking, and regularly drinking alcohol. As the new study revealed, those suffering from depression are also at an increased risk.
How is it treated?
Sometimes, ulcers may heal by themselves. However, if left untreated they can lead to more severe health issues.
In most cases, medications are used to treat the ulcer. These include Proton Pump Inhibitors, Histamine Receptor Blockers, antibiotics, and protective medications. If the ulcer has started bleeding, an endoscopy procedure may need to be carried out.
The important thing is to treat the cause of the ulcer, typically the H. pylori bacterial infection or due to NSAID use. If the original cause isn’t treated, ulcers may continue to form.
It will generally take a few weeks of treatment before the ulcer fully heals. You should also avoid drinking milk. This is because while milk can help to temporarily soothe the pain, it can also cause the stomach to produce more digestive juices and acid. This in turn will make the ulcer worse.
Ulcers are mostly harmless provided they are treated quickly. However, they can cause a lot of discomfort and lead to more serious health problems. So if you are suffering with Peptic Ulcer Disease, book a consultation with Mr Woodward to determine the best course of treatment.