How Anxiety and Stress Affect Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, are chronic conditions that can be significantly impacted by a patient’s mental state. Patients may experience a worsening of physical symptoms to the point of a disease flare-up, which can manifest as an increase in the frequency and severity of stools, bleeding, decreased hemoglobin levels, fatigue, and exhaustion.

In Israel, approximately 65,000 patients suffer from IBD, and this number continues to rise. While the exact causes of these diseases are not fully understood, they are believed to involve a complex relationship between genetic, environmental factors and immune system components. A study published in 2023 examined the interplay between mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic disorder (PTSD) and IBD symptoms. The research found that these mental disorders have a negative impact on the development of IBD course.

It is known that there is a close relationship between the brain and digestive system, with more nerve cells in the digestive system than in the spine. Stress has also been shown to have a significant impact on this axis connecting the two systems. To manage prolonged stress that affects IBD course, it is essential to prioritize self-care practices such as proper eating habits and getting enough sleep. Additionally, correct breathing techniques can help reduce muscle tension caused by constant “fight or flight” mode and promote relaxation.

Another recommendation is to recognize that while we cannot control what happens to us in life, we can control how we respond to it through routine daily actions such as changing negative thoughts and increasing physical activity like walking or jogging. If mental distress persists for an extended period with harmful effects on quality of life it is important to seek professional help from mental health providers or support groups available in the community or through health funds for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. For guidance on coping strategies or referrals for treatment options you can contact 03-7441391 hotline number of Association supporting Crohn’s and Colitis patients Sunday-Thursday 19:00-22:00 for more information visit www.ccfi

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