Canadian researchers used clinically validated questionnaires to examine the relationship between anxiety and depression levels in people living with IBD.
There is an undeniable link between your IBD and your mental health. We have known for quite some time that people with IBD are at a higher risk for developing symptoms of depression or anxiety, yet these conditions remain underdiagnosed. IBD, depression and anxiety are all conditions that tend to be characterised by periods of remission and relapse.
There is existing evidence that IBD patients who have also been diagnosed with either anxiety or depression are more likely to experience worse IBD activity and rely more heavily on their healthcare team compared to those who haven’t received this combination of diagnosis.
When mental health problems aren’t diagnosed and treated in people with IBD, there is a higher risk of poorer self-management of their condition. This can lead to worse medication adherence and increased disabilities.
- When IBD is active, symptoms of anxiety or depression tend to be higher
- The more active the IBD, the higher the symptoms of anxiety and depression, even in patients who don’t generally have either condition
- Evidence suggested that symptoms of anxiety and depression become more prominent before a flare, specifically for people living with Crohn’s disease
- When IBD is highly active, patients can be twice as likely to experience increased levels of anxiety and 6 times as likely to experience symptoms of depression
What do these results indicate?
The findings of this study highlight the importance of incorporating mental health care into the long-term management of IBD. The benefits of addressing mental health as part of routine care for IBD patients not only yields better health outcomes, but also reduces cost for the healthcare provider.
Steps to take today
1. Speak to your healthcare team
Letting your clinical team know how you feel mentally is just as important as sharing how you feel physically. They can provide you access to further resources that can bring you the support and help you need.
2. Reach out to your friends and family (or the IBD community!)
Support is key. Whether that means reaching out to a family member, a close or trustworthy friend, or someone in the community, sharing how you feel with others can help bring a sense of comfort to your life. Join the Ampersand Health Instagram community to connect with others!
3. Track how you feel
There are so many different tools and resources out there to help track how you feel. The My IBD Care app allows you to track your feelings, so that you can look back and see if there are any patterns in your health that may be representative of a bigger issue.
There is never a bad time to remember how important it is to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. Whether you experience anxiety, depression, or any other mental health conditions, taking time to focus on yourself is key to your overall health and wellbeing.
Monitor your mental health and get self-care advice
By tracking your mood, stress and sleep, you’ll already be taking steps to look after your mental health. The My IBD Care app helps you do this easily, and includes advice for self-care and IBD management.
Ruth Ann Marrie, MD, PhD, Lesley A Graff, PhD, John D Fisk, PhD, Scott B Patten, MD, PhD, Charles N Bernstein, MD, the CIHR Team in Defining the Burden and Mitigating the Impact of Psychiatric Comorbidity in Immuno-inflammatory Disease, The Relationship Between Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety and Disease Activity in IBD Over Time, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, 2021;, izaa349, https://doi.org/10.1093/ibd/izaa349