How Can IBD Affect Your Mental and Emotional Well-Being2
How can IBD affect your mental and emotional well-being?
Living life with a chronic illness like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can bring on different emotions and thoughts. When living with these inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), people may experience difficult times where they feel limited in what they can do, who they can have relationships with, and how they live their lives.
However, there are people with IBD that feel hopeful, confident, and have found ways to cope with their disease.
Talking about concerns related to mental health and emotional well-being can be challenging. Patients have expressed fears about seeming weak, or "crazy", if they tell someone about their feelings of depression, anxiety, or other negative emotions. But contrary to this thought, mental health is just as important as your physical health and studies are looking at how these two areas are related. In IBD there is significant evidence that there is an impact on health-related quality of life, specifically causing mental distress. In fact, anxiety and depression are the most commonly researched psychological problems in IBD. Studies show that patients who have active disease or symptoms experience higher levels of anxiety or depression compared to disease in remission.
It is normal for people with IBD to worry about how their disease will impact their life. People with IBD worry about things like:
- Loss of control of their bowel functions
- What to eat
- Difficulty sleeping
- And even experience social anxieties, like having to tell others about your disease, or how you may be perceived as a result
It is important not to ignore these feelings, and to have a supportive network that can offer encouragement, give you balance, or just be there when you need them. Talk to your gastroenterologist or healthcare team about anything you are feeling, just as you would about your physical symptoms. They may refer you to a psychologist or other mental health professional that has helped other people with chronic illnesses. Speaking up about your mental health concerns is not always easy, but you should know your options.
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