Inflammatory bowel disease has a scientific link to anxiety.
If you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, you know that the condition brings a certain amount of anxiety with it. What you may not know though, is that the two are scientifically connected.
According to research conducted at the University of Toronto, people who suffer from IBD (such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) are twice as likely to suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder. Women with IBD are actually four times as likely to suffer from anxiety than their male counterparts. So basically if you are a woman with IBD, keep reading.
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The reason people with IBD are more susceptible to anxiety issues is that 90% of the body’s serotonin is found in the intestinal tract. Serotonin regulates mood, so if serotonin levels are disrupted by a gastrointestinal issue, it can disrupt hormones and lead to anxiety. Magnesium is also necessary for proper serotonin production, and diarrhea can cause a mineral deficiency of magnesium, which can worsen your symptoms and lead to more anxiety. Lastly, stress brought on by anxiety can weaken the immune system, further exacerbating both your IBD symptoms, and your anxiety levels.
The problematic part of all of this is that anxiety feeds IBD, and IBD, in essence, causes stress. This creates a vicious cycle that only makes like harder, especially for women with IBD. So what can you do about it?
Unfortunately the only thing you can really do is try and manage your stress levels. Try to get enough sleep every night, and engage in yoga, and other stress-relieving activities. Breathing exercises can be really helpful for managing anxiety, and watching your diet is vital. If all else fails, there are plenty of medications to help manage anxiety and IBD, since the two go hand in hand.
The first step in removing yourself from the vicious cycle of IBD and anxiety however, is to realize the circle exists.
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