Having irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) doesn’t make it any easier to deal with anxiety, panic, and related conditions
A slamming pulse, hair-trigger nerves, an impending sense of doom – the symptoms of anxiety are unfortunately common, affecting about 40 million Americans. As you might guess, having irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) doesn’t make it any easier to deal with anxiety, panic, and related conditions.
Here’s a question though: could IBS actually cause anxiety?
Researchers have recently been paying a lot of attention to the potential links between anxiety disorders and IBS. So far, they’ve found that people with anxiety are about twice as likely to develop IBS, and that people with IBS are also more likely to become anxious. It’s likely that multiple factors impact the relationship between IBS and anxiety, and that IBS and anxiety influence each other as well.
If you have IBS, you may also:
At any time, your IBS may “go rogue,” meaning you can almost never stop thinking about it. That constant awareness and need to track so many details of your day could be enough to spur on anxiety and even panic attacks.
People who are stressed or who have anxiety or IBS often have brains and bodies that are very highly attuned to potential threats. It’s normal to have a mind and body that try hard to protect you from potential problems (that’s a good thing, actually!) But if you’ve already undergone a lot of stress or challenging experiences, it’s more likely that:
After multiple cycles of stress and worry, you may notice that you get sick more easily, feel irritable more often, may feel more “blue” or depressed than usual, and may get tired quicker and stay fatigued for longer. These are all red flags of suffering from always being on high alert.
At least six genetic arrangements (loci) are related to developing IBS, a recent study shows. These same genetic loci may influence your susceptibility to anxiety, depression, and negative mood conditions in general. While these genetic patterns don’t mean you will develop anxiety or IBS for sure, they do make you more vulnerable to both conditions.
It can sometimes be tough to tell if a particular symptom is stemming from anxiety or from IBS. Apprehension, restlessness, fatigue, and trouble sleeping, to name just a few, can characterize either condition, for example. Either way, it’s natural to feel anxious about the demands of dealing with IBS, just as worrying about something stressful going on in your life can twist your stomach into knots.
As Dr. Emeran Mayer reminds us, the mind and body are deeply interconnected, which means they influence each other in multiple ways. Your digestive system is very attuned to any mental stress you’re going through and vice versa. As Dr. Mayer puts it, IBS and anxiety could be viewed as “two sides of the same coin,” meaning that instead of one condition causing the other, they may both indicate the same underlying issues.
No matter why you’re having to deal with both anxiety and IBS, there are several potential ways to feel better. Many of these strategies have to do with breaking the cycle of IBS and anxiety. For example:
At Salvo Health, our digital healthcare platform and virtual clinic provides you with continuous text-based support and care for your chronic condition. Imagine being able to text a board-certified Physician or Behavioral Health Coach to avoid flare-ups or manage your pain. Alongside messaging-based communication, members receive a customized Care Plan that can take account of how their symptoms can be managed, no matter what FODMAPs they eat.
Get immediate access to a coordinated Salvo Health care team, including a certified gastro specialist and board-certified health coach when you join Salvo Health today.