Healthy Body

Why You May Be in a Better Mood After You Poop, According to a Gastroenterologist and Psychologist

Photo: Getty Images/ Arman Zhenikeyev
Ever noticed yourself being in a better mood after you poop? Well, we decided to get to the, um, bottom of it, by taking the question to a gastroenterologist and a psychologist, in turn to see what science has to say. In short, while there isn’t necessarily a physiological reason for being in a better mood after you poop, there may be a psychological one.

Gastroenterologist Niket Sonpal, MD, FACP, DABIM, says that anecdotally, he sees why this could be the case. “As a GI doctor, I have not seen any actual evidence for this; however, patients may feel lighter, which could, in theory, make them feel better,” he says. Taking that theory further, licensed clinical psychologist Samantha Gambino, PsyD, says, “Feelings are constricted in the same way your bowels may be when constipated.” From a psychological standpoint, here’s why she thinks pooping may put you in a better mood.

Regular BMs indicate a steady stream of serotonin

“Since 70 percent of serotonin is stored in the gut, it is natural that you will be in a bad mood when you are constipated, as serotonin is known as the ‘happy hormone,’” says Dr. Gambino. “Regular pooping causes less discomfort and indicates that your serotonin is being adequately released from your gut, which keeps your mood in check.”

Constipation can cause stress

The harder time you have pooping, the greater the potential mood boost once you finally do. “Constipation can cause anxiety, where you may have preoccupying thoughts about when you will be able to go to the bathroom and how it will limit your day,” says Dr. Gambino. So a bowel movement may be all you need to alleviate that mental tension.

A good poop embodies you

Feeling like you have no control over your body and bowels can make you feel powerless and helpless, and many people in this situation talk about feeling like their body has betrayed them,” says Dr. Gambino, speaking about bowel issues such as constipation and its distant cousin, diarrhea. So a normal poop can do a lot to alleviate this fear. “There is a sense of relief where you may think to yourself, ‘I finally did it!’ And it can feel like a real accomplishment, thus elevating your mood,” says Dr. Gambino.

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