If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and regularly feel depressed and anxious, you are certainly not alone.
A new study has shown that IBS symptoms are closely linked with mental health struggles that negatively impact patients’ quality of life.
Specifically, the study looked at anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts in patients admitted to the hospital for their IBS symptoms. It used data from 1.2 million IBS patients in over 4,000 U.S. hospitals over three years.
IBS is a chronic disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) system that affects up to 15 percent of the population.
More than 38 percent of the patients had anxiety, and more than 27 percent had depression. These were double the levels found in people that did not suffer from IBS.
Experts believe this could have something to do with what’s known as the gut-brain axis. However, the relationship is still misunderstood. On the one hand, IBS symptoms may influence anxiety and depression, while it is also possible those psychiatric issues may lead to IBS symptoms.
One of the keys to treating the symptoms may be recognizing feelings of anxiety and depression, then finding ways to deal with them. Meditation, relaxation, healthy eating, and good sleep are all ways to help manage stress and reduce anxiety.
Talk therapy with a professional can also help people treat depression and anxiety.
Dietary measures may help improve gut health or at least limit IBS symptoms that may induce anxiety. Cutting back on processed/greasy foods, red meat, and alcohol may help, as can eating more colorful fruits, vegetables, and yogurt. Foods like this may help to stabilize the microbiome.
The best approach may be holistic, where GI symptoms are treated in unison with mental health ones. Instead of going at it alone, talking to a doctor about treating both may have the greatest benefit.