I’m Sharing: Crohn’s Disease, Colitis Tied to Anxiety in Study

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 4, 2015 (HealthDay News) — People with inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, have an increased risk for an anxiety disorder, especially women, a new study suggests.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of disorders that cause chronic inflammation of the digestive tract.

“Patients with IBD face substantial chronic physical problems associated with the disease,” lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, a professor (at) the University of Toronto, said in a university news release. “The additional burden of anxiety disorders makes life much more challenging so this ‘double jeopardy’ must be addressed.”

The study authors looked at 269 Canadian adults who had been diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease. The researchers found that these patients were two times more likely to have had generalized anxiety disorder at some point in their lives than adults without Crohn’s or colitis.

And for women, the risk was four times greater than for men, the investigators found.

In addition, people with an inflammatory bowel disease and a history of childhood sexual abuse had a sixfold increased risk of an anxiety disorder. And those with Crohn’s or colitis who reported having moderate or severe chronic pain were twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder as those with mild or no pain, the study revealed.

Although this study found an association between people with an inflammatory bowel disease and the likelihood of an anxiety disorder, it wasn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between these conditions.

Findings were published online recently in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

“The study draws attention to the need for routine screening and targeted interventions for anxiety disorders. Particularly among the most vulnerable patients with IBD: women, individuals who are in chronic pain, and those with a history of childhood sexual abuse,” study co-author and adjunct lecturer Joanne Sulman, from the University of Toronto, said in the news release.

The study also highlights the link between physical and mental health, according to Patrick McGowan, an assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Toronto. He was not directly involved in the study.

“We sometimes think of the two as if they are entirely separate entities but the reality is they are intimately linked. Both involve genuine physical changes in the body and affect each other,” McGowan said in the news release.

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Dude, Not Cool…

Doctors and nurses ran frantically into and out of the small room I found myself in. I had never seen such organized chaos from my place in the hospital bed. Little did I know it then, but I had just traveled the longest, most expensive 50 miles, by ambulance to the nearest hospital. In weeks I had not felt the emotion you and me, we all have at some point in time likely taken for granted, known as joy. We’ll come back to that sensation and others, both authentically human and artificially or chemically induced, in greater detail later.
In weeks I had not been hungry, had not eaten anything that felt like it wasn’t fighting to out of me. I was miserable. I hadn’t held a baseball or wore a pair of cleats in as much time, though that time was starting to feel like much, much longer.
The doctor came into the room, finally. He decidedly sighed, looking over what I could only assume had to be my chart. After a quick but thorough examination, he stepped back and folded his arms. He then knowingly looked over to me, into my eyes, then as if without a shadow of a doubt said to my worried parents, “Crohn’s disease.”

As he continued talking, my mind raced off far away; immediately I knew one thing- I had never heard of anything that sounded so unpleasant, so uncool. After a few seconds, I came back into my body. “…but we’ll get him started on some steroids to control the inflammation and get you some medicine for the pain.”
He grinned, “You’re going to be feeling better soon”, he said, “but we want to be sure that you don’t have anything to eat or drink for maybe a day or two.” He went on further, but my ears told my brain it had heard enough. Provided the fact that I had tubes up my nose that had the necessary task of pumping bile from my diseased gut so that I could stop incessantly vomiting, I thought how he could joke at a time like this? Who is this guy, what is this, his job? Telling strangers who had nearly choked on their stomach as it tried to turn itself inside out, that he would fix them, while he starved them?”