Low Feeling in the Gut

Stomachs and mood disorders can hurt quality of life in IBD patients

(RxWiki News) Stomach distress can put extra distress on persons with long-term stomach problems-- even those who have little to no pain, the problem still persists.

In Asia, mood disorders and upset stomachs can negatively impact the quality of life in patients with an inflammatory bowel disorder who don't show any symptoms, new research has found.

The authors say it's the first study of its kind to show how mood, quality of life and stomach problems may be linked, as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) increases across the continent.

"Feeling moody? Talk to your doctor."

The study, led by Eun Kim, MD, PhD, from the Department of Internal Medicine and Division of Gastroenterology at Keimyung University in South Korea, included 513 patients who showed few to no symptoms from an IBD, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Participants were recruited from five hospitals in southern Korea and had some IBD for at least two years.

They averaged about 40 years of age and almost a third were male.

The IBD participants were compared to patients having routine check-ups.

Patients who were diagnosed with psychiatric problems or had surgery on their stomach or abdomen were excluded from the study.

Researchers interviewed participants on their medical history, anxiety and depression.

They also looked at patients' age, education, gender, employment status, whether they smoked and where they lived.

On top of having an IBD, researchers found that a little more than a third of their patients had irritable bowel syndrome, in which bowel movements change and patients feel cramping in their abdomen.

Patients who frequently have upset stomachs are 50 percent likelier to have anxiety and depression compared to those who don't have constant bellyaches.

In addition, people who have irritable bowels are about 44 percent more likely to have anxiety than those without it.

Having irritable bowels and anxiety significantly predicts that patients could have a lower quality of life.

Patients with long-term signs of upset stomach are about 34 percent more likely to have anxiety and depression.

About 27 percent of patients have anxiety and another 34 percent have depression.

Those who were 40 years of age and older were 2.34 times more likely to have impaired quality of life compared to non-IBD patients.

In addition, the odds were 2.42 and 3.93 times as likely in patients with anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome respectively that they'd feel their quality of life was impaired.

"This study may help better understand and deal with the management of IBD patients even when their disease is under stable status," the authors wrote in their report.

Education, employment, gender, whether they smoke and the type of disease do not affect the quality of life.

The authors note they couldn't completely exclude Crohn's patients who had active inflammation from their study.

They also could not confirm the diseases' activity using endoscopy since they did not want to increase patients' health cost or change how they cared for their symptoms.

The authors didn't have any conflicts of interest to report.

The article was published online October 17 in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.

Review Date: 
November 2, 2012