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Anxiety Can Affect GI System

Stress, anxiety and other mental health conditions or characteristics can make some individuals more susceptible to irritable bowel syndrome, finds a new study. However, study authors believe cognitive behavioral therapy may be an effective treatment for the disorder.

Overly anxious and driven people are susceptible to irritable bowel syndrome, usually known as IBS, indicates research published ahead of print in the journal Gut.

The researchers studied 620 people who had confirmed gastroenteritis caused by a bacterial infection. None had had IBS before, or indeed any serious bowel disorder.

Each participant completed a detailed questionnaire when their infection was confirmed. This included questions about mood, perceived stress levels, perfectionism and illness beliefs and behaviors.

They were then monitored three and six months later to see whether they had developed the typical symptoms of IBS, which include diarrhoea and/or constipation, abdominal pain and bloating.

In all, 49 people had IBS at both time points. Women were more than twice as likely to have IBS as the men.

Those with IBS were significantly more likely to have reported high levels of stress and anxiety and psychosomatic symptoms than those who did not develop the condition .

They were also significantly more likely to be “driven,” carrying on regardless until they were forced to rest – a pattern of behavior which only worsens and prolongs the condition, say the authors.

Although not likely to be depressed, those with IBS were more likely to take a pessimistic view of illness.

IBS affects between 10 and 15% of adults in industrialized countries, but its exact cause is unknown.

“Gastroenteritis may trigger the symptoms, but cognitions, behavior and emotions may help to prolong and maintain them over time,” conclude the authors, who suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy may be an effective treatment.

Source: British Medical Journal/GUT

Anxiety Can Affect GI System

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Anxiety Can Affect GI System. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/02/26/anxiety-can-affect-gi-system/649.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.