Could your IBS be related to anxiety?

Could your IBS be related to anxiety?

What is IBS?

IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is common gastrointestinal disorder affecting approximately 10-20% of the UK population at some point in our lives. The cause of IBS is not well known, and it is likely to be caused by multiple factors including physical and psychological symptoms. Symptoms of IBS include:

  • Cramps and pain in your stomach
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bloating and swelling in your stomach
  • Gas or excessive wind
  • An urgent need to go to the toilet

Most people find that their IBS symptoms vary from day to day and are worse after eating.


What link is there between IBS and anxiety?

For an overview of anxiety please visit our page on anxiety. Many people seek psychological therapy for anxiety and IBS, however, the link between the two is not clearly understood. It is thought that stress and anxiety can trigger IBS symptoms. For some people anxiety is felt in the stomach, through cramps and pain, which can aggravate, or mimic, IBS symptoms. The colon, part of our lower digestive system, is also linked to the central nervous system. Some researchers believe that this means that the gut responds to anxiety more than other parts of the body do.

IBS is a difficult condition to live with, causing pain and interruptions to daily life. This can have an impact on psychological wellbeing. Although this article focuses upon IBS and anxiety, many people also find that they experience low mood as a result of IBS symptoms.


When to seek help for IBS and anxiety

By treating anxiety, you may find that your symptoms of IBS reduce. One anxiety management technique you can try is to take regular cardio exercise or engage in yoga. The physical nature of these activities may regulate your digestive system. Diet changes can also help manage IBS. It is also important to seek professional help if your IBS is impacting upon your mood.

If these strategies are not helping to manage your anxiety and IBS, it may be beneficial to seek help from a psychological therapist. At Morency, we are seeing an increasing number of people who are struggling with anxiety and IBS symptoms. Depending on your particular symptoms, therapy at Morency may help you to:

  • Track your IBS symptoms and notice patterns in when they appear
  • Track your anxiety symptoms and notice any links between anxiety and IBS
  • Understand the cause of your anxiety and learn new skills to manage this
  • Acquire new pain management skills
  • Learn relaxation techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises that can relax the gut and limit the impact of anxiety on IBS
  • Manage the impact of IBS and anxiety on your mood

If you would like to discuss IBS and anxiety then Dr Julie Hannan at Morency can be contacted on 07530 854530. Dr Julie Hannan also specialises in Midlife issues and further midlife information can be found at