Irritable bowel syndrome in men associated with greater social stress than in women: Study

By: Devon Andre | Colon And Digestive | Wednesday, September 07, 2016 - 12:00 PM

Irritable bowel syndrome stressIrritable bowel syndrome in men is associated with greater social stress than in women. Researcher Jeffrey Lackner said, “Our findings underscore the significance of studying gender-based differences in how people experience the same disease or condition.”

IBS is a common gastrointestinal condition, with symptoms including abdominal pain and diarrhea or constipation. IBS is twice as common in women as it is in men, and so far male experiences with IBS were less studied.

The new study did uncover that there are very minimal gender-based differences in terms of symptoms. Previous studies have shown that males with IBS take on stereotypical female traits, like passive and accommodating behaviors. The new study shares that men report feeling cold and detached and as if they need to dominate their relationships. Men were also found to have greater difficulties with interpersonal relationships.

Lackner added, “That discrepancy underscores our need to move beyond clinical intuition and anecdote, and systematically study the different ways that each gender experiences disease in general. Patients who have a domineering and distant interpersonal style may need to work more closely with the physicians.”

Managing stress in irritable bowel syndrome

Although the mechanism is unclear, it is well known that stress and anxiety play a role in irritable bowel syndrome. Studies have shown that at least 60 percent of IBS patients suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder, while another 20 percent have depression.

There are many reasons for a person with IBS to experience stress. Be it symptom-induced or everyday stress, it can bring the overall stress levels up, worsening IBS. This is why patients with IBS are often advised to work towards reducing stress.

Here are some natural techniques that can help you reduce stress.

Get some fresh air: Stress can easily be reduced by stepping outdoors and getting some fresh air. Plus, vitamin D, which is obtained from sunlight, can also aid in stress reduction as it elevates serotonin – the ‘feel good’ hormone.

Stick to rituals: Having a routine can help you reduce stress. For example, taking a bath before bed or walking the dog after dinner. When we create a routine, we get comfy, and over time this can help us deal with stress much more effectively. Even when you are feeling powerless and bogged down, sticking to your routine can help you get back in control.

Get out of your head: Overanalyzing can trigger a mountain of negative thoughts, which can only contribute to further stress. In order to stop that fight in your head, distract yourself with an activity that you enjoy and focus on the task at hand instead of what’s in your head.

Get spiritual: Practicing religion or getting spiritual can help you out in times of stress. Studies have shown that strong beliefs and spirituality boost happiness during those difficult periods in your life. Whether you’re religious or not, pursue something you really believe in and allow your stress to come down.

Visualize calm: Remember as a kid you were told to use your imagination? Now that you’re older, you probably don’t resort to this ability much, but visualizing happiness and serenity can reduce stress and create a sense of calm. Go to a quite space, close your eyes, and start picturing a happier place or happier times. If you need help, there are books and audios you can utilize to get you to that place.

Take a bath: Water is known to have a soothing effect on our mind as it connects us to the times when we were in the womb. Soaking regularly in a bath tub can be your end-of-the-day stressbuster. For added stress relief, add in scents like lavender.

Be grateful: It’s easy to focus on the bad and forget about the good, but taking the time to express your gratitude can help you reduce stress. Whether this is calling up a friend to say ‘thank you’ or writing a list of your blessings, it is an easy solution to turn your negative thinking around and to see what good you have in your life.

Exercise: Exercise triggers the release of endorphins – hormones that make you happy. When we work out, all those feel-good chemicals are released, making us calm, relaxed, and destressed.

These are just some helpful tips to reduce stress. It’s also important to avoid binge eating, smoking, and drinking alcohol as these harmful habits will only worsen the negative impact of stress. If these techniques do not help, you can always seek out a therapist to help you overcome your worries.


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Related Reading:

IBS diet: Foods to eat and foods to avoid

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) vs. endometriosis: Causes, symptoms, risk factors, and complications

Sources:

http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2014/10/027.html
http://www.webmd.com/ibs/guide/stress-anxiety-ibs

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