Is breaking wind often a sign that you’re feeling down? Study suggests farting sign of depression


Is FLATULENCE a sign you’ve got the blues? Depressed people are more likely to break wind, feel bloated and suffer other stomach troubles, study says

  • Study found people with more gas more likely to feel depressed or anxious 
  • UK trumps the US, with Brits breaking wind 6 per cent more than Americans 
  • Mexico blew the doors off the competition, reporting the most gas per person


Breaking wind, burping and being bloated could be a sign of poor mental health, a global survey suggests. 

Researchers sought to get to the bottom of how common flatulence and other gas-related symptoms are in the population.

They quizzed nearly 6,000 people in the UK, US, and Mexico about their issues over 24 hours, as well as their mental health in the past week.

Breaking wind was the most common complaint, with 81 per cent of adults reporting they’d let at least one rip that day. The average person farts five to 15 times a day according to the NHS.

It was followed by stomach rumbling (60 per cent), belching (58 per cent), and bad breath (48 per cent). 

Other common symptoms included trapped wind (47 per cent), a swollen tummy (40 per cent) and bloating (38 per cent). 

On average, volunteers were affected by three gas issues within the 24-hour period, with only 11 per cent reporting no gas at all. 

In addition to gas, survey participants were also asked about their mental health and emotional wellbeing over the last seven days.

The scientists noted that the more gassy people also tended to report higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. 

Frequent farting could be a sign of a depression. Scientists have found a connection between gassy symptoms and poor mental health in a global survey which included nearly 2,000 Brits

This could mean that poor mental health was causing the gassy problems, or the reverse where people’s embarrassment or worries about their gas was impacting their mental wellbeing. 

Anxiety, nerves and depression are all known to impact the digestive system and  can result in stomach cramps, diarrhoea, constipation and loss of appetite.

By country, Mexico was the most full of hot air, reporting the highest number of all symptoms. 

The UK trumped the US in terms of flatulence, with 83 per cent of Britons breaking wind compared to a more modest 76 per cent of Americans.

Mexico still took the prize for most flatulent of the three nations overall however, with 85 per cent of respondents reporting the symptom.

The UK and the US were mostly neck and neck in terms of other gassy behaviour.

Britons reporting slightly more stomach rumbling. and Americans belching more and also more likely to have bad breath. 

The study was conducted by scientists from the Rome Foundation Research Institute in the US in collaboration with Danone Nutricia Research in France. 

Study lead author Professor Olafur Palsson from the University of North Carolina Department of Medicine, said the differenced between the countries needed to be looked 

‘The reasons for the marked differences in the amount of gas-related symptoms between Mexico and the other countries we surveyed are unknown, and need to be investigated further,’ he said.

‘Cultural, linguistic, diet or public health factors might affect population levels of gas-related symptoms.’

The research was presented at the United European Gastroenterology week. 

Breaking wind – what causes it and what’s normal? 

Breaking wind is perfectly normal, but some days you can be more gassy than others. So when should you be worried? Even the experts can’t agree what is ‘normal’.

The NHS, says it means breaking wind roughly 15 times a day, but according to digestive health charity Guts UK, anything up to 40 is healthy.

‘Frequency isn’t so important,’ says Dr Rehan Haidry, consultant gastroenterologist at The London Clinic. ‘But if it is very smelly and comes with bloating and pain in the tummy, it’s concerning.’

What causes it? 

Even in healthy people, foods such as onions, garlic and beans generate a lot of gas, as do carbonated drinks. But some suffer more than others, and feel pain, bloating and a change in bowel habits.

‘The most common cause of excess flatulence is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small bowel, called SIBO,’ says Dr Haidry.

 ‘These bacteria release gases as they react with compounds in foods. And because the small bowel is small and narrow, the gas gets squeezed out.

‘It often results in bloating and pain, too.’

The condition, diagnosed using either a food diary or breath test, is considered to be a type of irritable bowel syndrome. But GP Sasha Green warns: ‘If there are multiple symptoms, more serious problems such as lactose intolerance, coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel conditions and bowel cancer may be to blame.’

 What can be done about excess flatulence?

Dr Green recommends trying the over-the-counter medication simethicone, which can help some people as it breaks up gas bubbles in the stomach.

As for SIBO, antibiotics usually kills the nasty gut bug within a month, stopping symptoms, says Dr Haidry. 

‘Reduce foods such as beans, onions, garlic, cabbage and artificial sweeteners – those prone to SIBO find these particularly difficult to digest,’ he adds.

Dr Green adds: ‘A study has shown that underwear made with charcoal absorbs smell.’ These are available online.

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