Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), specifically Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, are known to be significantly influenced by a person’s mental state. Patients with these conditions may experience an exacerbation of symptoms that can impact the course of their disease. Some common symptoms include an increase in stools, bleeding, decreased hemoglobin levels, fatigue and exhaustion.
In Israel, approximately 65,000 individuals suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases and this number is on the rise. While the exact causes of these diseases are not fully understood, they are believed to be related to a complex interplay between genetic, environmental factors and immune system-related issues. A 2023 article examined the relationship between mental health disorders and inflammatory bowel diseases and their symptoms, finding that there is a mutual influence between the two.
Research has shown that there is a significant connection between the brain and the digestive system, with more nerve cells in the digestive system than in the spine. Additionally, stress has been found to have a major impact on the axis connecting the digestive system to the brain.
To manage prolonged stress that affects chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, it is important to prioritize proper self-care practices such as eating regularly and getting enough sleep. Proper breathing techniques can also help reduce stress levels by allowing for better oxygen intake and relaxation of muscles. It is also important to recognize that we cannot control everything in life but can control how we respond to it through changing thoughts and increasing physical activity such as walking or jogging. If mental distress persists or causes harm to quality of life, seeking help from mental health providers or contacting a support group like Crohn’s & Colitis Association at 03-7441391 or visiting their website www.ccfi