Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, are chronic conditions that can be significantly affected by mental health. Patients with these diseases may experience an increase in symptoms, including an increased frequency of bowel movements, bleeding, and a decrease in hemoglobin levels. Fatigue and exhaustion are also common symptoms.
In Israel, approximately 65,000 patients suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases, and the number is increasing. The exact cause of these diseases is not fully understood, but they are believed to be influenced by genetic, environmental factors and immune system-related issues. A recent study examined the relationship between mental disorders and inflammatory bowel diseases, noting that there is a mutual influence between the two. Mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic disorder can negatively affect the course of the disease.
The brain and digestive system have a complex relationship, with more nerve cells in the digestive system than in the spine. Stress has a significant impact on this axis connecting the two systems. Therefore, managing prolonged stress that affects chronic disease can be challenging. It’s essential to prioritize self-care by maintaining a proper diet and getting enough sleep while avoiding excessive physical activity or sedentary behavior. Proper breathing techniques can also help regulate stress hormones and reduce muscle tension caused by “fight or flight” mode.
If mental distress persists over time and causes harm to quality of life for IBD patients, it’s crucial to seek professional help from a mental health provider or contacting a support hotline like CCFI (Association for Support Crohn’s Colitis). For advice on managing IBD alongside mental health concerns or additional information about available support services visit their website www.ccfi.co.il