IBD and the mind

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can affect the mind just as much as it affects the body. Living with any long-term (chronic) condition can be hard and for some people it can take its toll on their mental wellbeing.

For some this can be in the form of stress, anxiety or depression, for others it can be in how they think others view them or how they view themselves. Whether you have a chronic condition or not, good mental health is important - the phase ‘the power of the mind’ exists for a reason!

There have been a lot of studies into IBD and psychological issues with various thoughts on the subject. Studies have shown that depression and anxiety are significantly more common in people with IBD than those who don’t have the condition1 and that although stress or mood disorders do not cause IBD they are a likely trigger in exacerbation in symptoms2. This may explain why some people report getting a flare during stressful events or when they are emotionally low.

What effect does IBD have on the mind?

How IBD affects the mind will vary greatly from person to person. Some of the elements of IBD which may have an effect on people’s minds include:

  • Pain
  • Coming to terms with a diagnosis of IBD
  • Surgery
  • Incontinence
  • The effect their IBD has on others
  • Having a limited diet

These can result in emotional responses such as:

Some people report that the more anxious they are about needing the toilet the more likely they are to need to go or that low mood can affect exacerbate their symptoms.

If these feelings start to have an effect on your everyday life, the quality of your life, or you feel they are exacerbating your IBD symptoms, then you may want to consider learning ways to help you deal with them.

This can be done through the help of professionals - such as your doctor or a counsellor - or, in some cases, self-help techniques are appropriate.

In some cases medication can be given for people who have significant psychological problems.

At IBDrelief we feel the role of the mind on IBD is important and In the coming months we will be adding more information on the subject to this section.



  1. L Kurina, M Goldacre, D Yeates, and L Gill. Depression and anxiety in people with inflammatory bowel disease. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2001 Oct; 55(10): 716‐720. PMCID: PMC1731788
  2. M. S. Sajadinejad, K. Asgari, H. Molavi, M. Kalantari, and P. Adibi. Psychological Issues in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: An Overview. Gastroenterology Research and Practice Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 106502, 11 pages

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