Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, have a significant impact on an individual’s mental state. Patients may experience worsening of physical symptoms, leading to a flare-up of the disease. Common symptoms include an increase in stools, tendency to bleed, decrease in hemoglobin levels, fatigue and exhaustion.
In Israel, approximately 65,000 patients suffer from IBD and the number of patients is increasing at an alarming rate. While the exact causes of these diseases are not fully known, they are believed to be influenced by a complex relationship between genetic, environmental factors and immune system related issues. A recent article published in 2023 examined the link between mental difficulties and IBD symptoms, noting that there is a mutual influence between these conditions and mental disorders like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic disorder.
Stress plays a significant role in exacerbating IBD symptoms as it affects the axis connecting the digestive system to the brain. Prolonged stress can have adverse effects on the course of chronic diseases like IBD. Therefore, it is essential to prioritize proper self-care practices such as maintaining a balanced diet and adequate sleep while avoiding skipping meals or gathering unnecessarily during stressful times.
One effective way to manage prolonged stress is through correct breathing techniques that help calm the body’s “fight or flight” response by releasing energy trapped inside it. Another recommendation is to understand that individuals cannot always control what happens to them but can control how they respond to it by changing thoughts that do not help them cope with their condition while increasing physical activity through walking or jogging for energy release purposes.
If mental distress persists with symptoms that negatively affect quality of life, it’s important for individuals with IBD to seek professional guidance from mental health providers in their community or health fund for advice and support services available on hotline number 03-7441391 Sunday-Thursday 19:00-22:00 or visit association website www.ccfi.co.il for more information about resources available for managing both physical and mental health conditions associated with IBD