More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
The highly anxious, and 'driven' more prone to IBS

Tuesday, 27-Feb-2007

Highly anxious and driven people are susceptible to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) indicates research published online in the journal Gut.

The researchers studied 620 people who had confirmed gastroenteritis caused by a bacterial infection. None had a prior history of serious bowel disorder or IBS.

Each participant completed a detailed questionnaire when their infection was confirmed. This included questions about mood, perceived stress levels, perfectionism and illness beliefs and behaviors.

They were then monitored three and six months later to see whether they had developed the typical symptoms of IBS, which include diarrhea and/or constipation, abdominal pain and bloating.

In all, 49 people had IBS at both time points. Women were more than twice as likely to have IBS as the men.

Those with IBS were significantly more likely to have reported high levels of stress and anxiety and psychosomatic symptoms than those who did not develop the condition.

They were also significantly more likely to be "driven," carrying on regardless until they were forced to rest - a pattern of behavior which only worsens and prolongs the condition, say the authors.

Although not likely to be depressed, those with IBS were more likely to take a pessimistic view of illness.

IBS affects between 10 and 15% of adults in industrialized countries, but its exact cause is unknown. "Gastroenteritis may trigger the symptoms, but cognitions, behavior and emotions may help to prolong and maintain them over time," conclude the authors, who suggest that cognitive behavior therapy may be an effective treatment.

Spence MJ, Moss-Morris R. The cognitive behavioural model of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective investigation of gastroenteritis patients. GUT 2007 Feb 26, doi:10.1136/gut.2006.108811 [Abstract]


I have IBS and I can definitely say that it's at it's worst when I'm experiencing any kind of anxiety. It used to flare up with any kind of stress, but in the past few years it only hits me with anxiety.

Yup - makes sense to me.
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