Coping and support

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Crohn's disease doesn't just affect you physically — it takes an emotional toll as well. If signs and symptoms are severe, your life may revolve around a constant need to run to the toilet. In some cases, you may barely be able to leave the house. When you do, you might worry about an accident, and this anxiety only makes your symptoms worse.

Even if your symptoms are mild, gas and abdominal pain can make it difficult to be out in public. You may also feel hampered by dietary restrictions or embarrassed by the nature of your disease. All of these factors — isolation, embarrassment and anxiety — can severely alter your life. Sometimes they may lead to depression.

Educate yourself, and connect

One of the best ways to be more in control is to find out as much as possible about Crohn's disease. Organizations such as the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) have chapters across the country to provide information and access to support groups. Your doctor, nurse or dietitian can locate the chapter nearest you, or you can contact the organization directly at 888-MY-GUT-PAIN (888-694-8872) or on its website.

Although support groups aren't for everyone, they can provide valuable information about your condition as well as emotional support. Group members frequently know about the latest medical treatments or integrative therapies. You may also find it reassuring to be among people who understand what you're going through.

Some people find it helpful to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist who's familiar with inflammatory bowel disease and the emotional difficulties that it can cause. Although living with Crohn's disease can be discouraging, research is ongoing and the outlook is brighter than it was a few years ago.

Aug. 09, 2011