A systematic review and meta-analysis study found that the prevalence of anxiety and depression symptoms is higher in patients with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) than the rest of the population. Up to a third of IBD patients had anxiety symptoms, while a quarter manifested depression symptoms. During the disease flare-ups (active stage), the prevalence of anxiety shot to half while that of depression rose to a third.
Since mental health is as vital as physical well-being, patients with IBD need to be screened for these disorders and get the appropriate treatment. As the conditions aggravate each other (i.e., IBD increases the risk of anxiety and depression in patients and vice versa), screening can lead to diagnosis and treatment, thereby improving their quality of life.
What Is IBD?
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term used to refer to diseases (ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease) that affect the digestive tract.
Ulcerative colitis involves inflammation that results in ulcers along the colon and rectum lining. The ulcers produce pus or bleed, which is usually seen in a patient's stool.
Crohn's disease is inflammation of the tissue of the digestive tract. The disease manifests as patchy spots and can affect any part of the digestive tract (mouth to anus). However, it affects the ileum and the beginning of the colon mostly.
IBD can develop in all age groups. Generally, IBD affects people from all races but is more prevalent among whites and those with a family history of the condition.
What Are the Symptoms of IBD?
Inflammatory bowel disease symptoms vary from one person to the other, and the type of the IBD one is suffering from. Once the disease develops, patients often have periods of active illness where symptoms flare-up, followed by remission.
Generally, the most common symptoms of IBD include:
· Chronic constipation
· Abdominal pain and cramping
· Persistent diarrhea
· Rectal bleeding
· Unexplained fatigue
· Loss of appetite
· Unintended weight loss
· Feeling as if the bowel hasn't emptied completely
Can IBD Be Cured?
Inflammatory bowel disease can't be cured. It's a lifelong condition characterized by periods of active illness and remission. The symptoms are pretty uncomfortable for patients during active periods and often affect their quality of life. Nonetheless, this doesn't have to be the case. With medication and lifestyle changes, you can manage the condition and lead a normal life.
The medication is meant to induce remission, helping the patient maintain remission consistently. This goes hand in hand with diet control. For instance, keeping a food diary can help you identify the best foods for you and those that cause symptoms flare-ups, such as dairy products.
Likewise, you need to adopt a regular workout regime as exercise can help reduce stress and improve sleep, which is essential for boosting your immune. Your physician will also recommend ways to top up nutritional deficiencies (e.g., best supplements) since the condition interferes with nutrient uptake.
IBD and Anxiety/Depression
There isn't an exact known cause for IBD yet. Nonetheless, studies indicate that the condition mainly develops due to immune system malfunction. That is, as the immune system fights inflammation, it attacks the cells in the digestive tract. Another possible cause is a person's genetics. Having a family history of IBD predisposes one to the condition.
Traditionally, IBD has been linked to diet and stress. Though current studies prove that the two cannot cause the condition, they often aggravate it.
Depression is a mental health condition that leads to extreme feelings of sadness accompanied by a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy. As the depression progresses, a person may find simple activities of daily living such as performing personal hygiene feel like complex tasks.
Below is a rundown of common signs of depression.
· Persistent sadness
· Negative feelings (feeling worthless, hopeless, and helpless)
· Either weight loss due to decreased appetite or weight gain from overeating
· Slowed decision making
· Memory lapses
· Inability to focus
· Either insomnia or oversleeping
Anxiety is having a feeling of apprehension about future outcomes. It's a body's natural reaction to uncertain situations. However, when the worrying persists and interferes with your daily activities, the anxiety is no longer considered normal. In this case, it becomes a disorder, which can manifest in many forms – panic attacks, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), etc.
Common signs of anxiety include:
· Inability to control worry
How to Manage Anxiety and Depression
Note that having any of the signs mentioned above does not necessarily imply you have depression or anxiety. But if you have a combination of the symptoms for a prolonged period (two weeks), it's good to book an appointment for screening.
If the diagnosis turns positive, the physician will put you on treatment, which may involve a combination of medicine and therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy). You may also require to make lifestyle changes such as exercising, having enough sleep, and taking the recommended diet.
Other helpful ways of managing depression and anxiety include;
· Using breathing techniques to relax
· Attending support groups
· Exploring activities that you enjoy
· Setting small goals
· Accepting your situation
Talk to GI Associates in Wisconsin About Your IBD
Left unmanaged, IBD increases a patient's risk of developing colorectal cancer. That's why it's essential to not only seek IBD treatment but also get screened for anxiety and depression, as their presence can aggravate the condition. With studies showing a high prevalence of depression and anxiety among IBD patients, getting screened is the best way of staying on top of your health.
At GI Associates, we are committed to taking care of your gastrointestinal health so that you can enjoy your life despite chronic conditions like IBD. From treating ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease to scheduling you for regular colonoscopy, we help take care of your GI issues to prevent them from interfering with your quality of life. Talk to us today at 877-442-7762, and let us help you manage your health.