IBD and depression: Is there a connection?

IBD and depression can sometimes go hand in hand. Pay attention to this connection.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and depression can go together. After all, IBD doesn't just affect you physically. It can take a toll on your self-confidence, your relationships, your work life, and your zeal for new adventures and activities. If you experience regular episodes of severe diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, your life may revolve around a constant need to run to the toilet. Even if your symptoms are mild, it can be difficult to be out in public.

You may find yourself avoiding activities outside your home, especially in a new place where you're unfamiliar with the bathroom locations. You may feel embarrassed or nervous in new situations. You may even inadvertently shrink your much-needed social support network by turning down invitations from friends, family and neighbors. All of these factors can be discouraging. They can alter your life and may lead to depression.

It's normal to be frustrated and down if you're struggling with IBD. However, if you think that your condition is causing depression, don't ignore this feeling. Depression is a serious mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It often gets worse if it isn't treated.

When you're depressed, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day, and may include:

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness or unhappiness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or restlessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that you normally enjoy
  • Changes in your sleep patterns, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Changes in your appetite
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating or remembering things

If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.

Dec. 27, 2014 See more In-depth