People suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, are two times more likely to have a generalized anxiety disorder during their life, compared to individuals without IBD, a recent study by a team of researchers from the University of Toronto shows. Female IBD sufferers, the investigators reported, were particularly vulnerable to anxiety disorders.

Women with IBD had four times the risk of anxiety, when compared to men with IBD, said author Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson:

“Patients with IBD face substantial chronic physical problems associated with the disease. The additional burden of anxiety disorders makes life much more challenging so this ‘double jeopardy’ must be addressed."

The data came from a sample of over 22,000 Canadians, the 2012 Canadian Community Health Study: Mental Health. A total of 269 respondents reported that they had been diagnosed by a health professional with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Said co-author and adjunct lecturer Joanne Sulman:

“The study draws attention to the need for routine screening and targeted interventions for anxiety disorders. Particularly among the most vulnerable patients with IBD: women, individuals who are in chronic pain and those with a history of childhood sexual abuse."

Co-author and former graduate student, Rusan Lateef, noted two other factors that were associated with anxiety disorders among those with IBD:

“Of particular interest was the six-fold odds of anxiety disorders we found among those with IBD who had a history of childhood sexual abuse. Not surprisingly, we also found that those who reported moderate or severe chronic pain had twice the odds of anxiety disorders in comparison to those with only mild or no chronic pain."

Fuller-Thomson, Esme; Lateef, Rusan; Sulman, Joanne Robust Association Between Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Findings from a Nationally Representative Canadian Study Inflammatory Bowel Diseases., Post Author Corrections: July 24, 2015 doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000000518

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