There is a bidirectional relationship between IBD and anxiety. IBD can cause anxiety, and anxiety can worsen IBD symptoms. It's important to understand how these two conditions interact to get the best treatment possible. This article will dive into the vicious cycle that can be the relationship between these two conditions.

IBD And Anxiety The Vicious Cycle

A recent study found that "anxiety disorders are highly prevalent in patients with IBD" and that "these disorders may have a significant impact on disease activity."

In other words, having anxiety makes IBD worse, and vice versa. The exact reasons for this connection are unknown, but it's likely a combination of factors. IBD is a chronic, unpredictable, and often disabling disease which can cause a lot of stress.

This stress can lead to the development of an anxiety disorder. Additionally, the constant worry about IBD symptoms and how they affect daily life can worsen symptoms. So what is IBD? Can triggers be avoided, which in turn lessen existing anxiety?

What Is IBD

Ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD) are both types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. IBD is a chronic condition that includes inflammation in all or part of the digestive system.

IBD most commonly affects the colon and small intestine, but any organ from the mouth to the anus can be involved. IBD requires medical treatment to mitigate its effects on daily life.

What Is Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal stress reaction. When faced with severe stress, anxiety can be disabling. Anxiety is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) as "a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease that keeps you from living your life the way you'd like to."

IBD patients are not an exception to this definition. IBD causes several major stressors in one's life, compounding general anxiety. Stress is a broad term describing factors outside ourselves that cause physical or emotional tension.

Symptoms range dramatically depending on the severity and duration of stressors - mild symptoms include muscle tension and fatigue. At the same time, more severe cases may result in cold sweats and nausea.

Anxiety can trigger IBD flares too! One study found that IBD patients hospitalized with an IBD flare-up were more likely to have anxiety and depression diagnoses than those who did not have outbursts.

What Triggers IBD?

There is no one answer to this question as each person's IBD is unique. However, some general triggers may affect people with IBD.

Some common triggers include:

  • Stress
  • Infection
  • Food sensitivities
  • Medications
  • Changes in routine
  • Surgery
  • Pregnancy

It's essential to track your triggers so you can avoid them if possible.

What Are IBD Symptoms?

Symptoms of IBD vary depending on the person and the severity of the disease.

However, common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

IBD can also cause systemic symptoms like joint pain, rash, and mouth ulcers. It's essential to see a doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms to help determine if you have IBD.

What Are Some IBD Treatments?

There is no one cure for IBD - the treatment depends on the individual and their specific diagnosis. However, several treatments are commonly used to manage symptoms.

These treatments include:

It's vital to work with a doctor to determine the best treatment plan for you.

When To See A Gastroenterologist About IBD?

Suppose you are experiencing any of the symptoms. In that case, it is crucial to see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. IBD can be a severe disease, so it's important to get help if you think you might have it.

You should see your Gastroenterologist if:

  • You have diarrhea that lasts more than a week or is accompanied by blood or mucus
  • You have had cramping or abdominal pain for more than a week
  • You have weight loss
  • Your IBD flares up regularly without any known triggers
  • IBD is making you feel depressed or anxious

GI Associates & Endoscopy Can Help With IBD & Anxiety

GI Associates can help determine your IBD diagnosis and manage IBD treatment, helping to relieve your anxiety associated with the disease. IBD can be scary, but early diagnosis and treatment will allow you to get back to living the life you want! Contact us today to set up your appointment, servicing several locations in Mississippi.

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