Is IBS Taking A Toll On Your Mental Health?

Written by Dr. Pramod Mane on Mon, 12 February 2024


Are you an IBS patient? Do you often feel that you lack motivation? It's understandable! It's difficult to live with a disease like IBS in everyday life. It hampers the quality of life as well as puts a significant negative impact on work and social domains. However, my friend, life is like a river. You must not lose hope in living a good life. It's not easy, I admit but it's not impossible. Most importantly, you are not alone. IBS is a disease that causes extreme intestinal discomfort along with constipation, diarrhea, and severe abdominal pain daily, this can make a person feel unrest, anxiety and emotional turmoil. The link between IBS and depression is rarely discussed but it is one significant problem to be addressed.

It's often mentioned that depression and IBS are not interdependent, although they often work together. Some people get so depressed that their diarrhea, constipation, or other symptoms will flare up that they avoid going to work, school, or out with friends. They avoid social gatherings, skip any joyful events; which gradually makes them irritable and restless. This explains how IBS and mental health are interrelated.

1. Non-pharmacological therapy for IBS

There are a few medications or rather anti-depressant medicine for mental stress due to IBS, but scientists emphasize opting for non-pharmacological therapy.

2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

  • CBT helps to identify thoughts and behaviors that affect the gastrointestinal system, and understand how, in turn, the gastrointestinal system affects mood.
  • CBT equips coping techniques to manage unhelpful thoughts and behaviors to reduce IBS symptoms. 
    Coping techniques: Relaxation exercises and calming self-talk are two CBT coping techniques that may help. These exercises enable you to actively lessen the stress response, thereby reducing the gut changes that occur in response to thoughts and feelings.
  • CBT gradually reduces the effects of the body's natural stress response on your digestive system, helping to ease symptoms as well as lessen anxiety and help reduce pain.

Physical exercise:

Exercise. Walking, running, swimming, and other physical activities can reduce stress and depression. They also help your bowels contract in a more normal way instead of overreacting.

3. Brace yourself for the next IBS attack

Once you know you have IBS, it's tough to get rid of it from your head. You'll always be worried about your next attack. But worrying too much about IBS aggravates it. It is an example of the IBS emotional causes.

Let's see how can you tackle it:

  • Stay calm when you are having early symptoms. Keep on trying different coping techniques until you find what is best suitable for you.
  • Start to maintain a symptom diary. This can help you identify possible patterns related to your attacks. For example, if you know you're more likely to experience attacks in the morning, you can plan your day accordingly, or if you need to go out ensure you know where the nearest restroom is.
  • Practice regular stress management activities.
  • Be careful about what you eat. You have to be aware of dietary sensitivities that may trigger an attack. Make a list of all foods including dairy, gluten, and caffeine that trigger your IBS. Make sure you know your triggers and avoid or reduce your intake accordingly.

To summarise, you must be positive about your health, body, and mind. Do not let a medical condition ruin your quality of life. Stay motivated and try different techniques to understand which suits you best to tackle the anxiety related to IBS. Embrace it and make it a part of your life.


Dr. Pramod Mane

A Doctor of Medicine (MD) in Pharmacology., currently based in Mumbai, India, Dr Pramod Mane, comes with an experience of more than 20 years of working in Medical Affairs in the Pharmaceuticals & Nutraceutical Industry. Director of Medical Services at Mega Lifesciences since 2008, Dr Mane has been associated with several MNCS in the areas of Medical Affairs, Medical Services, Medico-marketing, Pharmacovigilance & Clinical trials in his illustrious career.

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  1. IBS and Depression: What's the Link? 
  2. Stress, Anxiety, and IBS: Coping Techniques
  3. Padhy S, et al. Irritable bowel syndrome: Is it "irritable brain" or "irritable bowel"?. Journal of neurosciences in rural practice. 2015 Oct;6(04):568-77.
  4. Stress, Anxiety, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome 

Our team of experts frequently monitors developments in the health and wellness field, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

Feb, 12 2024

Written By

Dr. Pramod Mane

Dec, 02 2023

Written By

Dr. Pramod Mane