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Personality May Influence Irritable Bowel Syndrome — an article on the Smart Living Network
June 8, 2009 at 1:15 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Personality May Influence Irritable Bowel Syndrome


While personality has not been shown to cause IBS, there certainly is a link between personality and IBS symptoms. Stress is most often identified as a trigger of IBS, as well as anxiety.

What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that is estimated to affect up to 58 million Americans. It is a disorder of the intestines that causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. Typically, a person with IBS experiences either constipation or diarrhea more frequently than the other. Some people may have IBS their whole lives and never be bothered much by it. Others have it so severely that their symptoms interfere with daily life. Many suffer because they have trouble keeping a job due to the frequency and severity of their symptoms.

What Causes IBS

Doctors aren't sure of the exact cause of IBS. It has been linked to a number of different possible causes including mixed-up brain signals, low birth weight, excessive stress, mood disorders, diet and even hormonal changes. Women are much more likely to have IBS than men. It is due to the vague nature of IBS that many people don't take the syndrome seriously. More research will help make this condition visible and seen as a valid health condition.

Personality May Influence IBS

Personality seems to play a fairly large role in the recurrence of IBS symptoms. A number of studies have shown psychological and behavioral connections to the prevalence of IBS. One doctor estimates that 60% of those with IBS have some sort of mood or other psychiatric disorder, usually anxiety or depression. Since these people typically worry more in general, and tend to focus and hold on to negative thoughts in general, they may experience more severe symptoms of IBS in addition to other physical symptoms of anxiety (upset stomach, dizziness, insomnia, irritability).

Anxiety, Depression and IBS

People with anxiety or depression tend to focus on negative thoughts and experiences. They may experience their IBS more severely than those who are not depressed because they focus intently on how they are feeling and allow the IBS to interfere more than it may need to. They also have a much more difficult time learning to deal with IBS and will find it harder to seek treatment. While some antidepressants may actually trigger IBS, there are many newer antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications that will not affect IBS. These medications along with therapy may help the person learn to cope.

Stress and IBS

Stress is another common trigger of IBS. People who cannot manage stress are more prone to a number of health problems, as chronic stress will weaken your immune system. Chronically stressed people are usually much less likely to seek medical treatment for their health issues, as they feel they do not have the time for it. They may push their bodies hard until their bodies literally give out on them. They may also view any illness as weakness, which further prevents them from seeking treatment. While IBS may have any number of causes, it can be managed through a combination of diet, exercise and therapy. If IBS sufferers have a mood disorder, an antidepressant will help them tremendously when used in addition to therapy and lifestyle changes. Addressing the root cause of the IBS will be the most effective treatment.


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