Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, can have a significant impact on the mental state of patients. These diseases can cause physical symptoms such as an increase in stools, increased tendency to bleed, and a decrease in hemoglobin levels. However, it is important to note that mental difficulties can also affect the course of these diseases.
In Israel, approximately 65,000 people suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases, and this number continues to rise. While the causes of these diseases are not fully understood, they are believed to be influenced by genetic, environmental factors, and immune system issues. In fact, a 2023 article examined the interrelationship between mental difficulties and IBD and their symptoms. This study found that there is a mutual influence between IBD and mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic disorder (PTSD), which can negatively impact the development of the disease.
It is well known that there is a complex relationship between the brain and digestive system. The digestive system has more nerve cells than the spine. Stress has been shown to have a significant effect on this axis connecting the digestive system to the brain. To cope with prolonged stress that affects chronic disease course management it is important for individuals to prioritize self-care practices such as maintaining proper drug treatment sequences and follow-ups with medical professionals during emergency situations. It’s important for individuals to pay attention to their dietary habits by eating regularly in an organized manner or taking supplements if necessary. Additionally, practicing correct breathing techniques can help reduce stress levels by releasing energy trapped inside the sympathetic system which will work harder without a “stop button”. Another recommendation is understanding that we cannot always control what happens to us but we can control our reaction towards it by changing thoughts through therapy or medication if necessary , increasing physical activity like walking or jogging for releasing energy .
If mental distress lasts for an extended period with no improvement in quality of life it’s important for individuals to seek professional help from mental health providers in their community or health fund. For patients with IBD it’s crucial because maintaining good mental health may also affect managing their disease effectively.
For advice and guidance on coping with inflammatory bowel diseases contact 03-7441391 Sunday-Thursday 19:00-22:00 or visit www.ccfi