What is the Connection Between Anxiety and IBS?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Caffeinated drinks, like coffee, can cause anxiety and trigger IBS.
Caffeinated drinks, like coffee, can cause anxiety and trigger IBS.

Scientist are not 100-percent sure of the ways anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are connected, but there is evidence that suggests the two are related. A significant percentage of individuals with IBS also have psychiatric conditions, such as panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Many suffer from social phobias and depression as well. Additionally, there is evidence that shows taking steps to reduce stress may also help a person with IBS to reduce his symptoms.

Taking steps to reduce stress may help a person with IBS.
Taking steps to reduce stress may help a person with IBS.

There are various theories that attempt to explain the relationship between anxiety and IBS. One of these theories is that anxiety is not capable of causing IBS. Instead, the idea is that people with IBS may be more likely to struggle with anxiety and other mental health issues such as stress and depression. Furthermore, it is also possible that anxiety forms a circular pattern with IBS symptoms. In such a case, anxiety may contribute to worsening symptoms, which in turn makes anxiety and other emotional problems worse.

Stress is believed to have a detrimental effect on a person's immune system, leading to further IBS troubles.
Stress is believed to have a detrimental effect on a person's immune system, leading to further IBS troubles.

Another theory about the connection between anxiety and IBS is that a person who is dealing with anxiety may be more aware of his body. As such, he may notice colon spasms more than other people might. Additionally, his anxiety may cause him to focus more on his symptoms, which may make them seem worse.

Most health experts agree that stress can have a detrimental effect on a person’s immune system. For this reason, one of the theories about the connection between anxiety and IBS is related to the effect stress may have on an IBS patient's immune system. The idea with this particular theory is that the immune system causes IBS; since stress and anxiety can impair the immune system, it may then indirectly cause IBS.

A significant percentage of individuals with IBS also suffer from psychiatric conditions.
A significant percentage of individuals with IBS also suffer from psychiatric conditions.

Regardless of exact details of the connection between anxiety and IBS symptoms, it is generally accepted that managing stress levels well may help a patient to be more comfortable and experience fewer IBS symptoms. To lower stress and anxiety levels, an IBS patient may do well to get plenty of exercise and sleep. Following a nutritious diet may help as well. Additionally, an IBS patient may help control his anxiety and stress by doing relaxation exercises, seeking mental health counseling, or even just taking more time to do the things he enjoys. When a person has an anxiety disorder, rather than occasional anxiety, medication may help as well.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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    • Caffeinated drinks, like coffee, can cause anxiety and trigger IBS.
      By: picsfive
      Caffeinated drinks, like coffee, can cause anxiety and trigger IBS.
    • Taking steps to reduce stress may help a person with IBS.
      By: joshya
      Taking steps to reduce stress may help a person with IBS.
    • Stress is believed to have a detrimental effect on a person's immune system, leading to further IBS troubles.
      By: David Stuart
      Stress is believed to have a detrimental effect on a person's immune system, leading to further IBS troubles.
    • A significant percentage of individuals with IBS also suffer from psychiatric conditions.
      By: blanche
      A significant percentage of individuals with IBS also suffer from psychiatric conditions.