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Anxiety Recently Linked To IBS

Anxiety research has come a long way over the last decade, leading to a number of treatments and therapy options for those who suffer from its crippling symptoms. Among the latest disorders and syndromes linked to anxiety is irritable bowel syndrome.


Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a disorder in which sufferers experience intense gastrointestinal discomfort and pain. This can be seen in the form of cramping, digestion issues, diarrhea, constipation, gassiness, bloating, and other symptoms.


Recent findings from research performed in Belgium has found a link between IBS and psychological factors, such as anxiety and depression. The report can be read in Gut, an international medical journal which offers insight on diseases and disorders of the stomach and digestive tract.


Findings By Scientists


The relationship between IBS and anxiety was first realized in 2010, following an epidemic in Belgium in which over 18,000 individuals received contaminated drinking water which caused gastroenteritis. The virus made many sick, and left long-term damage in the form of fear and anxiety toward the possibility of drinking poisoned water. Medical News Today reports; “The scientists found that individual with higher levels of anxiety or depression prior to the water contamination developed gastrointestinal infections of increased severity. The same individuals also had an increased risk of developing the long-term complication of irritable bowel syndrome, with intermittent abdominal cramps, diarrhea or constipation a year after the initial contamination.”


These findings were huge, suggesting that anxiety could leave one vulnerable to the possibilities of contracting more immense symptoms from a stomach virus or disorder.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome


IBS is extremely common, especially in North America where a large assortment of processed foods is consumed daily. The disorder effects the digestive system and has no known cause of cure, although medical professionals often blame diet and exercise. The search for a cause of IBS is one that could ultimately lead to the discovery of a medical treatment.


Edward Blanchard of the State University of New York at Albany agrees with the research performed in Belgium. He has said that roughly 60% of IBS sufferers also suffer from a psychiatric ailment, such as anxiety. These findings by researchers promote the idea that anti-anxiety medication may have some effect on the treatment of the syndrome where dietary changes fail.


Anxiety And Gastrointestinal Pain


Something that new research has been clear in promoting is the idea that anxiety is not necessarily causing the IBS, but rather increasing the effects of the syndrome. Individuals who suffer from psychiatric issues may experience more extreme levels of stomach pain and digestive irritation. Dizziness, insomnia, and sore muscles may also be noticed. Web MD supports this concept, reporting; “There's proof that stress management can help prevent or ease IBS symptoms. Some people use relaxation techniques such a deep breathing or visualization, where they image a peaceful scene. Others reduce stress by doing something enjoyable, such as talking to a friend, reading, listening to music, or shopping.”


Stress management activities will not cure IBS altogether, but can alleviate some symptoms or lessen them dramatically. Meditation, exercising regularly, and maintaining a diet rich in vitamins and minerals can drastically improve the syndrome.


Worry And Stress


Even for those without IBS, worry and stress can cause physical symptoms to appear in the body. From headaches to nausea, people deal with anxiety in different ways. This is why those with irritable bowel syndrome suffer more when they feel the impact of these emotions or fears. It suddenly isn’t just an upset stomach, but an out of control digestive system, which can make it difficult to work, play sports, or enjoy a day out on the town. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America writes; “People with IBS frequently suffer from anxiety and depression, which can worsen symptoms. That’s because the colon is in part controlled by the nervous system, which responds to stress. Evidence also suggests that the immune system, also responding to stress, plays a role. IBS can also make you feel more anxious and depressed.”


Antidepressant medication can be prescribed by a doctor to control some of the symptoms associated with stress and depression, while most IBS treatment involves more natural methods of care. Changing what you eat to support a higher fiber intake, without the cruciferous vegetation that brings on an episode. A multivitamin to support the intake of all necessary nutrients, and an increase in the daily amount of water consumed can all make a positive difference.


Advancements In Research


Irritable bowel syndrome may not gain the same recognition in the medical community as more advanced illnesses, but researchers are still making the search for treatment a priority. New information is surfacing each year which helps sufferers to supress and alleviate more intense symptoms. Unfortunately, at this time there is no cure, although some individuals do overcome the syndrome and go on to be IBS free overtime by changing diet, weight, and habits which may impact the symptoms. Smoking cigarettes, consuming large quantities of alcohol, living a sedentary lifestyle, and eating foods high in fat, can all be cause for flare ups.


Some individuals have found that weight loss can decrease the impact of IBS, while others have found relief through handling the mental health aspects of their life first. Many IBS symptoms are linked to other disorders or deficiencies, which, if treated appropriately, can provide a more effective management of the syndrome. Before beginning any medication or drastic dietary changes to treat your own IBS, consult a doctor.

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