Before Diagnosing Yourself With Ibs
Self-diagnosis is always a bad idea. If you believe that you’re suffering from IBS, check with your doctor. There are several harmless and harmful diseases that cause many of the same symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and only a doctor can rule out these conditions.
Also, many of the symptoms of IBS are also seen in those with intolerance to certain types of foods. It may be in your best interests to investigate your food intolerances. Make sure that you’re not sensitive to foods with gluten, certain grains, dairy products, etc. – all of these create the same types of symptoms as IBS, but represent a very different cause and treatment.
What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The specific cause of IBS isn’t known, but it tends to run in families.
Some foods like milk, chocolate, drinks with caffeine, gassy foods, and fatty foods can trigger IBS symptoms. So can infections, and anxiety and stress. Some kids with IBS are more sensitive to emotional upsets. Nerves in the colon are linked to the brain, so things like family problems, moving, or taking tests can affect how the colon works.
Kids with IBS may be more sensitive to belly pain, discomfort, and fullness than kids. Sometimes, people never find out what brings on their IBS symptoms.
What Can I Do About Ibs
There isnt a cure for IBS, but the symptoms can be managed. If you havent already done so, youll want to make an appointment with your primary care provider or PCP. Theyll check if your symptoms are due to more urgent health conditions, and if its really IBS, theyll work with you to improve your symptoms over time.;
If you have another health issue, like anxiety, your provider can also advise you on how to treat both conditions at the same time. Managing IBS itself usually requires a combination of diet and lifestyle changes, and medications and sometimes, those can help your anxiety, too.;
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The Missing Link In Ibs
While the exact cause of the link between IBS, depression, and anxiety is still unknown, researchers agree that there is an absolute link between the three.
When experiencing depression symptoms it can lead to more difficulties in managing symptoms of IBS, as depression often causes feelings of hopelessness and despair.
Without proper management of symptoms, IBS can spiral out of control, causing a round-about effect of anxiety, depression and chronic flare-ups.
The good news is that help is available. Those living with IBS have various options to manage their anxiety and depression symptoms, and these treatment options can also help IBS symptoms and lower the frequency of flare-ups.
How Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Connected To Anxiety
Numerous theories exist about how anxiety, stress, and irritable bowel syndrome are connected.
Some of the common discomforts of this disorder include digestive problems, and other gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and stomach pain.
As you might imagine, this health condition can be not only uncomfortable and inconvenient but also embarrassing.
Unfortunately, anxiety and stress can intensify the symptoms of this disorder. Its believed that your body produces and releases hormones that affect your stomach and intestines when youre stressed out or in an anxious state of mind.
These hormones can cause flareups and increase sensitivity and inflammation, as they change the bacterial balance in your gut. When this happens, abdominal pain, discomfort, and irregular bowel movements are not uncommon.
The troubles of irritable bowel syndrome and anxiety may increase to immense proportions when combined with eating foods suspected of contributing to gut pain and gastrointestinal discomfort.
When a flareup occurs, IBS symptoms can last from two to five days, and they often stop as suddenly as they arrived.
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The Timing Of Your Symptoms Matches Up
The Cleveland Clinic’s website explains that the causes of IBS are not fully understood. Often, though, people who have been diagnosed with IBS, associate the condition with having a so-called “nervous stomach” or having other symptoms of anxiety. If your IBS symptoms like diarrhea, gas, pain, constipation, or urgently needing to use the bathroom seem to only happen when you are anxious, you might need to treat your anxiety, to find some relief.
An Introduction To Ibs And Panic Attacks
People suffering from IBS may be more prone to panic attacks. These can be described as a sudden, intense bout of anxiety and can produce pronounced physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate, sweating, shaking, tremor and in severe cases hyperventilation, choking and nausea.
Panic attacks can be so severe that in some instances, people believe they are having a heart attack. If you want to learn more about panic attacks, please refer to our Stress and Anxiety Health Hub.
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Why Anxiety And Ibs Are Related
Anxiety doesnt cause IBS. But worry about money, your career, relationships, and your health can make you experience IBS more intensely. It can feel like anxious thoughts and fears make IBS symptoms come on.
If you have IBS, it may just be that youre more sensitive to emotional troubles. You just feel more in general.
Another reason you may feel IBS and anxiety are related is because anxiety and the associated stress can make the mind more aware of the spasms in your colon that cause IBS flares. The colon is controlled, in part, by the nervous system. Your nervous system is sensitive to stress, which may just make spasms worse, too.
Stress and anxiety can cause your immune system to be oversensitive. Its also thought that your immune system plays a role in IBS flare-ups, hence the connection.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome And Anxiety
I am writing this article as the No Panic helplines receive a very large number of queries about irritable bowel syndrome. I hope that this article might begin to clarify some of the issues.
I suppose that one should say from the very start that irritable bowel syndrome is an umbrella term to cover a number of different conditions. These conditions have a number of common characteristics, to which I refer below, and most forms of irritable bowel syndrome comprise both physiological and psychological components. It is a condition that is extremely common and some medical textbooks state that about 50% of referrals to gastroenterologists are for this condition.
The main symptoms are usually abdominal pain and altered bowel habits, and constipation often alternates with diarrhoea. The pain may be of a dull or aching variety, but sometimes it may be knife-like in its nature. The location of the pain also varies; sometimes it is in the lower quadrant of the abdomen, at other times it can occur in the middle of the abdomen, just under the ribs.
Sometimes the bowel motions may be very frequent and watery, particularly in the morning. This frequency of bowel activity in the morning often leads patients to avoid going out before the bowel activity slows down, or ceases, and this may also cause sufferers to develop an avoidance of situations where toilets are not readily present.
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Change Your Brain Change Your Gut
Because of this brain-gut connection, gastrointestinal;and behavioral medicine together can treat IBS and other digestive disorders. Sometimes it takes both to help you cope with ongoing symptoms.
Behavioral medicine treatments for IBS include:
- Relaxation therapy. Progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery can help reduce your bodys reaction to stress, Dr. Scheman says. This training can help calm your body and mind and help you sleep better, which also promotes healing. Deep relaxation causes your brain to release endorphins, your bodys natural painkiller.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy. Changing how you think and behave can improve your bodys response to stress. You learn coping skills, such as focusing on positive emotions, physical activity and finding joy, Dr. Scheman says. Change your thoughts, change your brain, change your gut.
- Biofeedback. This behavioral technique allows you to take control of body functions, such as your hand temperature, breathing or heart rate. For example, you can slow your heart rate or relax your breathing when youre stressed.
What Are Anxiety Disorders And Ibs And How Common Are They
Common anxiety disorders include general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder , and social anxiety disorder. Whats shared among all anxiety disorders is a persistent, excessive worry. It can cause physical symptoms like a fast heart rate, fatigue, and sweating, and may mess with your ability to function normally in everyday life.;
IBS is a disorder that affects the digestive tract and causes abnormal bowel movements. Its considered to be a functional disorder, meaning theres nothing wrong with the physical structure of the digestive tract . Symptoms of IBS usually include diarrhea and/or constipation, and abdominal pain.;
Collectively, anxiety disorders affect more than a third of all U.S. adults at some point in their lives. IBS also seems to be fairly common. Its estimated that 7% to 21% of the U.S. population has IBS. Many people with these conditions go undiagnosed.;
Researchers dont have an estimate for how many people experience both an anxiety disorder and IBS. However, some studies show that psychological problems are more common in people with IBS. In one study, for example, 44% of people with IBS had an anxiety disorder compared to only 8% of people without IBS.
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Learning To Relax Is Vital
If you have both IBS and panic disorder, practicing;relaxation exercises;will;be highly beneficial by helping you to;build skills for calming your body and reducing your distress;when you are experiencing a panic attack or an IBS attack or both. Even better, if you practice these skills regularly you will lower your baseline level of anxiety, which will reduce your risk of having either type of attack.;
How Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treated
There’s no cure for IBS. But many things can help reduce IBS symptoms, including:
- Changes in eating. Some kids find that careful eating helps reduce or get rid of IBS symptoms. Your child might have to avoid milk and dairy products, caffeine, gassy foods, or other foods that seem to bring on problems. Eating smaller, more frequent meals also might help.
- Changes in lifestyle. If IBS is tied to stress, talk about what your child can do to manage pressures related to school, home, or friends.
- Regular exercise. Exercise can help digestion. It’s also a great stress reliever.
- Medicines. Doctors sometimes prescribe medicines to treat diarrhea, constipation, or cramps. Antidepressants may help some people with pain management and depression. Talk with your doctor before giving your child any over-the-counter medicines for diarrhea, constipation, cramps, or other digestive problems.
- Counseling and coping strategies. If your child seems very anxious or depressed, your doctor might recommend seeing a psychologist or therapist. Therapy, hypnosis, breathing exercises, or other relaxation techniques can help some people manage IBS.
IBS can affect your child’s quality of life. Talk with your doctor about ways to manage it to help your child lead an active and healthy life.
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How Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosed
There is no specific test for IBS. To diagnose it, doctors ask about symptoms and do an exam. They’ll ask if anyone in the family has IBS or other gastrointestinal problems.
Talking about things like gas and diarrhea can be embarrassing for kids. Reassure your child that the doctor deals with issues like this every day and needs the information to help your child feel better.
The doctor may suggest keeping a food diary to see if any foods trigger your child’s IBS symptoms. The doctor might ask about stress at home and at school.
Most of the time, doctors don’t need medical tests to diagnose IBS. Sometimes they order blood tests and stool tests, X-rays, or other tests to be sure another medical problem isn’t causing the symptoms.
Why Does Ibs Cause Panic Attacks
An urgent need for the toilet is a common scenario for people suffering from IBS.
People may have been caught off guard in the past, needing to use the toilet when none can be found nearby a good cause for panic. An episode of incontinence may even have been a result. The fear of a similar situation recurring can trigger a panic attack.
Unfortunately, in someone with IBS, a vicious cycle can result where the presence of recurring digestive issues can cause panic attacks and an episode of panic can then result in the onset of more punishing physical symptoms.
People suffering from IBS are more prone to stress and on the other hand, people who are prone to panic attacks, anxiety, stress, low mood or depression are more likely to suffer from IBS. In the body there is a robust brain-gut connection which may explain why these two areas can have such a large influence on each other. Stress in the gut can quickly be communicated to the brain and affect our mood and stress response. Read our blog on how stress may cause you digestive issues.
In this page, we focus on how IBS can cause panic attacks but if you think your panic attacks may be resulting in the incidence of IBS please follow the link to read more about psychological factors and IBS.
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The Potential Benefits Of Probiotics
One area of great interest to researchers looking at IBS, mental health disorders, and links between the two, is the human microbiome, or the diverse population of gut microbia that lives in our gastrointestinal tract, which appears to play an active role in many areas of health. Normally, a balanced population of good bacteria keeps our digestive system healthy but when that balance is disrupted, as it can be for a variety of biological, psychological, medical and environmental reasons, an overgrowth of bad bacteria can result. Studies are showing this imbalance can have profound negative effects on both physical and mental health.
Treatment Options For Ibs Related Depression And Anxiety
As mentioned, living with IBS often causes symptoms of anxiety and depression to arise, and the severity of symptoms is much higher in those whose IBS symptoms arent properly treated.
What many patients with IBS dont realize is there are actually 3 different types of IBS.
While they all fall under the same diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, determining the form of IBS helps determine the most efficient route of treatment for managing symptoms.
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A Gut Feeling: Balancing Stress And The Microbiome
The microbiome is made up of a complex community of 10-100 trillion microbial species that are composed of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. There is a wide realm of ways in which the microbiome plays a role in maintaining our health and protecting our bodies against an attack by diseases or other foreign pathogens.
In fact, the microbiome plays a particularly important role in people with IBS, SIBO and other GI disorders, as a disruption in the diversity and/or amount of the microbial populations in these patients is often seen.
This disruption can play a role in how IBS patients experience stress and anxiety.
Treatment Options For Ibs And Panic Disorder
Much like panic disorder, there is currently not a cure for IBS. However, both panic disorder and IBS are treatable conditions.
Many of the common treatment options for panic disorder have also been shown to safely and effectively treat IBS.
For example, some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors commonly prescribed for panic disorder have also been found to reduce IBS symptoms. On the other hand, some of the medications for panic disorder can worsen IBS symptoms, so it is important that you discuss your symptoms and treatment options with your doctor.
Psychotherapy is also a common treatment option that can help with both panic disorder and IBS. Psychotherapy can assist with stress management techniques, as high-stress levels often exacerbate both conditions. Going to therapy can help you deal with the physical and emotional feelings associated with both disorders. Additionally, psychotherapy can assist in reducing the symptoms of common co-occurring conditions, such as depression.
Panic Disorder Discussion Guide
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Can Behavioral Medicine Help You
Behavioral medicine techniques like these can help improve your mood and your quality of life. And that can mean fewer IBS flare-ups.
If medication or other treatments arent helping your IBS, or if you notice that stress makes your symptoms worse, be sure to contact your health care provider to see what next steps you might consider.
An Introduction To Ibs And Anxiety
Anxiety is a mental state of extreme apprehension and worry, which may lead to physical effects on our body. Feeling anxious is normal in certain situations. However, when it starts occurring on a more frequent basis, anxiety can become a health issue.
Anxiety can produce physical effects in the body. These include palpitations, sweating, dizziness, an upset stomach and diarrhoea. As experiencing anxiety may be a consequence of IBS, the shared symptoms as mentioned above may become more prominent.
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Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms & Treatment Options
Irritable bowel syndrome is not often thought of as a stress-related disorder, but as it turns out, the brain can play a significant role in the health of our gut and digestive systems. And this is a two-way street, as the health of our gut can dramatically affect normal brain functioning, altering our emotions, mood, and even sleeping patterns.
This is why common treatments for IBS usually encompass several types of treatment protocols, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, diet changes, and even anti-anxiety medication, as theres no magic bullet that can cure IBS and its symptoms in one fell swoop.
In this article, we will discuss what Irritable Bowel Syndrome is, what causes it, and what treatment protocols are available, including the Drake Institutes non-drug treatment options, which are effective at helping reduce IBS, as well as other ;stress-related disorders like general anxiety, depression, and PTSD.