The Link Between Anxiety And IBS



Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders that involve periodic abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, gas, and constipation. There are reportedly more than 20% of individuals worldwide who are diagnosed with IBS. Anxiety and other psychological conditions have been linked with the disorder, but none of the experts have identified its precise cause. Even understanding the whole progression of the disease has not yet been achieved.

IBS, unlike Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, is known to be a functional disorder or something that may be a result of a digestive problem instead of it being caused by abnormal growth, inflammation, or permanent destruction of the GI tract, all of which can be seen through physical examination. IBS, on the other hand, can evoke both psychological and physical symptoms.

The GI-Brain Connection

Although not completely understood, the symptoms of IBS seem to develop from a disruption in the gut-brain conjunction, where the lines of communication between the brain and the GI tract are located. This disruption may also include a disturbance in one’s immune system. This concept is what most experts believe to be the cause in about 50% of IBS patients, specifically those who manifest with chronic stomach pain and those who claim to have mental symptoms such as anxiety, distress, and other mental health issues.

Stomach Problems And Suicide

Although there have been many studies and trials done, researchers still have a lot of questions regarding the connection between mental health disorders and IBS. Undeniably, the disease causes distress, anxiety, and significant mood disorders. In one study composed of 100 patients diagnosed with IBS, one-third of these patients confessed that they had thought about committing suicide because of the psychological symptoms they were experiencing. However, it is vital to note that several elements may affect the development of psychiatric diseases in IBS, and this further complicates the job of the researchers. It also lessens the possibility of finding the best treatment for the disease.


Probiotic Treatment

An area that is being given attention recently by our researchers as they look into irritable bowel syndrome, mental health illnesses, and the connection between the two, is the gut microbiome or bacteria that resides in a person’s GI tract. It appears that this microbiome has a vital role in the various aspects of a person’s health. As it is, a good number of bacteria helps maintain the harmony within one’s digestive system, while a disruption in the balance of the number of bacteria results in a gamut of medical, biological, environmental, and psychological issues. There will most likely be an excess number of bad bacteria that causes negative effects physically and mentally.

In connection with this, studies have been centered on the treatment of IBS and the associated mental health issues with probiotics. These are good live bacteria that can be produced through fermentation, taken as supplements, and administered through fecal transplantation into the GI tract. It is done through a procedure that is similar to colonoscopy. Continuing research on this topic has shown that probiotic treatment benefits most patients with IBS utilizing probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are found to be responsible for reestablishing the balance in the GI system. Food sources that can be consumed to get more of these bacteria are cheeses, kefir, and yogurt.

Healthy Living To Cure Upset Stomach

Medical experts agree that more research has to be done on the above concepts. However, since there is an undeniable link between mental health and irritable bowel syndrome, it is their recommendation that people must practice healthy living to improve or prevent both GI problems and mental health issues. But aside from these recommendations that one can follow, it is important to always check with your primary physician about any signs and symptoms that need further medical explanation.

Here are some healthy living tips that you can start today to achieve mental and physical wellness.


  • Stay away from artificial sweeteners. More and more research has proven that these artificial sweeteners can cause blood-sugar issues and disrupt the balance of the gut bacteria, which then causes more health problems.


  • Consume foods that are rich in fermentable fibers, which have shown to help increase or maintain good bacteria in the gut. Asparagus, chicory, artichoke, garlic, onions, wheat, oats, bananas, leeks, and soybeans are among the foods that have loads of fermented fibers. One can also benefit from vegetables, fruits, coffee, wine, nuts, chocolates, and vegetables – foods that are loaded with the plant compound polyphenol.


  • Finally, the best principle to live by to maintain your health physically and mentally is to base your diet on wholegrain bread and cereal, fruits, vegetables. Always be conscious of your consumption of processed foods. Of course, incorporate exercise in your daily activities – at least 30 minutes will be very beneficial. And stay away from stress, which plays a tremendous role in keeping the harmony of your body and mind.