Researchers Explain How Your Gut Bacteria Causes Anxiety, According to Science

“Previous research has demonstrated that some manipulation of the balance of bacteria in the gut can impact anxiety-like behaviors, but this study is the first that links that balance to (the brain.)”

Anxiety is a big problem

Researchers estimate that over 40 million adults in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder. This number is equivalent to 18 out of every 100 Americans. In just over 20 years, anxiety disorders have increased by over 67 percent.

Per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders “are the most common mental illness in the United States.” Sadly, only about 37 percent of those with an anxiety disorder receive proper treatment.

What is an “anxiety disorder”?

“Anxiety disorder” is an umbrella term comprised of one of the following conditions: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder (PD) Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Specific Phobias, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Aside from to the harm inflicted on the person’s life, anxiety (which often accompanies depression) costs the U.S. economy (e.g., health care costs and insurance hikes) over $40 billion a year.


It’s a common misconception that all mental health disorders stem from chemical imbalances within the brain. Certainly, neurochemical activity in the brain plays a significant role in many — but not all — cases of mental illness.

An article published by Harvard Medical School (HMS), titled “The gut-brain connection,” explains this delicate relationship. Here are highlights of the HMS article:

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