Patients with irritable bowel syndrome may suffer from significantly higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation

Summary: A study finds a link between IBS and an increased risk of developing mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. Researchers say that identifying and treating mental health comorbidities in people with IBS improves the quality of life of those affected.

Source: University of Missouri

New research from the University of Missouri School of Medicine has linked irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.

Research highlights the need for healthcare professionals to assess and treat associated psychiatric comorbidities in patients with IBS to improve their overall health and quality of life.

IBS is a chronic stomach and intestinal disorder affecting up to 15% of the population. It causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. This study looked at over 1.2 million IBS patient hospitalizations at 4,000 US hospitals over a three-year period and found that over 38% suffered from anxiety and over 27% suffered from depression.

The two figures were twice the rate of anxiety and depression seen in people without IBS. The prevalence of psychiatric problems, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, suicidal attempt/ideation, and eating disorders, was significantly higher in the IBS patient population compared to the adult population general.

This shows a man clutching his stomach
IBS is a chronic stomach and intestinal disorder affecting up to 15% of the population. Image is in public domain

“One possible explanation is the so-called brain-gut axis,” said lead researcher Zahid Ijaz Tarar, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine.

“We have long suspected that brain-gut axis dysfunction is bidirectional, such that IBS symptoms influence anxiety and depression, and on the other hand, psychiatric factors cause IBS symptoms. Healthcare professionals should treat both ends of the axis.

Untreated psychiatric disorders in IBS patients also put additional pressure on healthcare systems due to increased frequency of hospitalizations and longer stays. Chronic diseases such as IBS are also known to be associated with stress, work incapacity and associated economic burdens for patients and their families.

“I often tell my IBS patients that if they’re suffering from any kind of psychological stress, it will come out in some form or another,” said senior author Yezaz Ghouri, MD, assistant professor of medicine. clinical and gastroenterology.

“The mesenteric membrane that holds the intestines together has one of the largest collections of nerve cells in the body. When these nerves begin to fire impulses, it can lead to a jittery state in and around the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in IBS symptoms.

“The resulting decline in patient quality of life can lead to poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking. Early assessment and treatment of IBS and associated psychiatric disorders is essential. »

About this news on mental health research and IBS

Author: Press office
Source: University of Missouri
Contact: Press Office – University of Missouri
Picture: Image is in public domain

Original research: Access closed.
“Burden of Anxiety and Depression in Hospitalized Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A National Analysis” by Zahid Ijaz Tarar et al. Irish Journal of Medical Sciences

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Burden of Anxiety and Depression in Hospitalized Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Nationwide Analysis

Context and objective

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common functional gastrointestinal disorder that affects patients both physically and mentally. Our study aimed to investigate the burden of psychiatric disorders in patients with IBS.


We performed a retrospective analysis of the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) from 2016 to 2019. We recruited patients admitted with a diagnosis of IBS and determined the prevalence of anxiety, depression, and attempt/ideation suicidal.


We found a total of 1,256,325 hospitalizations with a diagnosis of IBS. Among them, 478,515 (38.1%) suffered from anxiety and 344,165 (27.4%) suffered from depression. The prevalence of psychiatric disorders, including anxiety (38.1% versus 15.1%), depression (38.1% versus 15.1%), bipolar disorder (5.22% versus 2.38% ), suicidal thoughts/attempts (3.22% vs. 2.38%), and eating disorder (0.32% vs. 0.08%) were significantly higher in the IBS patient population compared to compared to the general adult population (p< 0.001). Patients with IBS were more likely to be anxious (ACR 2.88, 95% CI 2.85-2.91, P<0.001), depression (ACR 2.16, 95% CI 2.14–2.19, P< 0.001) and suicide attempt/ideation (AOR 1.94, 95% CI 1.88–2.00, P< 0.001) compared to the general population. IBS subtypes, including diarrhea-predominant, constipation-predominant, and mixed type, were independently associated with increased risks of anxiety, depression, and suicide attempt/ideation. Patients with IBS and co-diagnosed with anxiety or depression had a mean prolonged hospital stay of 0.48 (95% CI 0.43-0.52, P< 0.001) and 0.52 (95% CI 0.06–0.97, P< 0.03) days, respectively.


The presence of IBS is associated with an associated increased prevalence of psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, and suicidal attempt/ideation.

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