Emotional Stress and Crohn’s Disease – How They Relate
Sarah Jenkins July 5th, 2007
For years, many people have argued that forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, including Crohn’s Disease, is caused by emotional stress, tension, and anxiety; this, however, is completely inaccurate. While there may be links to emotional stress and Crohn’s Disease, it is not a cause of the disorder.
A common misconception is that Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is the same thing as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). However, these differ considerably. IBD causes inflammation of the intestines and is not caused psychological factors. On the other hand, there is a strong link in emotional issues contributing to IBS.
While some may argue Crohn’s Disease is caused by being overly emotional, it is in fact an inappropriate response of the immune system and no correlation to the disease and psychological issues. However, emotions may play a role in how a person deals with Crohn’s Disease.
In dealing with any chronic disease, people may find difficulty is coping with the long term effects of their medical condition. As a result, people with Crohn’s may become depressed or suffer other psychological issues, such as severe anxiety or dependency. As Crohn’s often causes excessive diarrhea and gas, it is sometimes embarrassing for people to go out in public, possibly leading to reclusion. Likewise, travel becomes more difficult, which may lead to feelings of loss of freedom. Long term pain also causes emotional complications, as well as long term use of pain medications.
While Crohn’s Disease may cause emotional stress, there has also been a reverse connection recognized: meaning stress may cause flare-ups of complications in patients already affected by Crohn’s Disease. Through extremely emotional times, a person may notice an increase in severity of diarrhea, gas, and pain.
If psychological issues become a hindrance in daily life, it may be necessary to seek professional help. While medication is not typically needed, simply acquiring support may be very beneficial. This may also be accomplished by joining support groups or conversing with other people that suffer from the same or similar disorders.
For peace of mind, there are also other steps that you can take to reduce stress as a result of Crohn’s Disease. Carrying a change of clothes with you, familiarizing yourself with your surroundings, including location of bathrooms, and being aware of your body’s reaction to certain foods will ease anxiety when you are out and about and prepare you for possible issues that may arise.
- Crohn's Disease