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How do depression and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) work together?

ANSWER

The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can cause a level of distress that looks like depression. Some people are so worried that their diarrhea, constipation, or other symptoms will flare up that they avoid going to work, school, or out with friends. They may focus less on their social lives and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. They may feel restless or irritable. All of these are symptoms of depression.

On the other hand, the mood disorder may influence the way people handle IBS. They may feel too tired or hopeless to bother changing their diet to ease digestive symptoms or think they can't treat their constipation or diarrhea well enough. Also, emotional stress makes bowel symptoms worse.

SOURCES: 

Lydiard RB. J. Clin Psychiatry, 2001. 

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." 

Jeanine Blackman, MD, PhD, medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine. 

Jonathan Gilbert, National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). 

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 

Mayo Clinic: "Highlights from Digestive Disease Week: An Expert Interview with Lawrence R. Schiller, MD." 

Fadgyas-Stanculete M., Journal of Molecular Psychiatry, 2014. 

Medline Plus: "Amitriptyline" and "Desipramine."

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri on March 8, 2020

SOURCES: 

Lydiard RB. J. Clin Psychiatry, 2001. 

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." 

Jeanine Blackman, MD, PhD, medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine. 

Jonathan Gilbert, National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). 

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 

Mayo Clinic: "Highlights from Digestive Disease Week: An Expert Interview with Lawrence R. Schiller, MD." 

Fadgyas-Stanculete M., Journal of Molecular Psychiatry, 2014. 

Medline Plus: "Amitriptyline" and "Desipramine."

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri on March 8, 2020

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