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Are stress and anxiety related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

ANSWER

It's not clear how stress, anxiety, and irritable bowel syndrome are related -- or which one comes first. But studies show they can happen together. Experts believe that about 60% of folks with IBS will meet the criteria for one or more psychiatric disorders. There are several theories about the connection, including:

• Although psychological problems like anxiety don’t cause the digestive disorder, people with IBS may be more sensitive to emotional troubles. • Stress and anxiety may make the mind more aware of spasms in the colon. • IBS may be triggered by the immune system, which is affected by stress. 

SOURCES: 

Philip Schoenfeld, MD, MSEd, MSc, co-author of American College of Gastroenterology's "Evidence-Based Position Statement on the Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in North America." 

Janine Blackman, MD, PhD, former medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, adjunct professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, founder of RiverSoul Wellness in Bethesda, MD.

Jonathan Gilbert, who has a diplomate in herbology and acupuncture from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). 

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Acupuncture." 

Mayo Clinic: "Irritable Bowel Syndrome." 

WebMD Feature: "Natural Alternatives for IBS." 

University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter. 

Medscape: "Probiotics Significantly Reduce Symptoms of IBS, Ulcerative Colitis" and "Highlights from Digestive Disease Week: An Expert Interview with Lawrence R. Schiller, MD."

Reviewed by Jaydeep Bhat on February 14, 2019

SOURCES: 

Philip Schoenfeld, MD, MSEd, MSc, co-author of American College of Gastroenterology's "Evidence-Based Position Statement on the Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in North America." 

Janine Blackman, MD, PhD, former medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, adjunct professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, founder of RiverSoul Wellness in Bethesda, MD.

Jonathan Gilbert, who has a diplomate in herbology and acupuncture from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). 

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Acupuncture." 

Mayo Clinic: "Irritable Bowel Syndrome." 

WebMD Feature: "Natural Alternatives for IBS." 

University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter. 

Medscape: "Probiotics Significantly Reduce Symptoms of IBS, Ulcerative Colitis" and "Highlights from Digestive Disease Week: An Expert Interview with Lawrence R. Schiller, MD."

Reviewed by Jaydeep Bhat on February 14, 2019

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What is the most common mental ailment found in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

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