IBS could be a result of depression, anxiety: Study

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Lucknow, Nov 14 (IANS) An irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) need not necessarily be indicative of gut health, but it can also be a result of depression, anxiety and stress, according to a study.

The study conducted by doctors from the psychiatry and medical gastroenterology departments of King George’s Medical University (KGMU) has found this.

IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal (GI) disorder characterised by localised abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea and altered bowel habits in the absence of demonstrable organic disease.

Although every fifth person is affected by IBS, the cause is poorly understood. Potential risk factors include reduction in good gut microbiota, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), visceral hypersensitivity, intestinal mucosal immune activation, dietary intolerance and disruption of the gut-brain axis.

The study, titled ‘sociodemographic and clinical variables, including psychiatric comorbidities in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a clinical study,’ was conducted at KGMU on 100 IBS patients and published recently in the journal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry.

The study revealed that 53 per cent of patients had moderate depression, 43 per cent were experiencing moderate anxiety and 36 per cent were experiencing moderate stress.

Some patients had more than two psychological ailments, and 29 per cent of cases had psychiatric comorbidities.

Additionally, about 48 per cent patients had psychosomatic symptoms, such as weakness, body ache and fatigue.

Prof Adarsh Tripathi, who led the study, said a stationary lifestyle, psychosocial distress, lack of sleep, use of tobacco and alcohol, consumption of junk food and lack of exercise can also affect the bi-directional brain gut axis.

The only clear causal component discovered so far is post-infectious IBS (PI-IBS).

“As per the findings, IBS patients should not only take medication but also consult psychiatrists because the treatment will not provide relief otherwise,” said Tripathi.

Prof Sumit Rungta, head of medical gastroenterology at KGMU and a part of the study, said many patients with IBS suffer from psychosocial disturbances that are often overlooked.

Both the researchers agreed that IBS symptoms can be alleviated by staying active, getting sufficient sleep, taking rest and managing stress.

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