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Anxiety over leaving the house and being away from a bathroom

This is Why Anxiety Makes IBS Even Worse

I think we can all agree that IBS flare-ups are terrible. But if you’re like me, you suffer from actual symptoms far less than you suffer from the anxiety of getting these symptoms.

Since I figured out most of my triggers and found a routine that works for my body, my symptoms have gotten so much better. Sometimes I go for weeks without having a severe IBS flare-up.

When I’m in my comfort zone, my anxiety is fine, too. But whenever I get out of it, and this happens as soon as I break out of my everyday routine, it starts to hit me again.

The anxiety of having a flare up

As soon as I get out of my comfort zone, my brain starts to remind me that I might get a flare-up. It’s especially bad when I’m not staying close to home, when I don’t know if there are going to be bathrooms, or when I know that I won’t be able to go home the second I feel bad.

I know perfectly well that the possibility of getting a flare-up increases the minute I think about it (stress really is one of the worst triggers for me), and this makes it even worse. After a while, I’m stressing about being stressed about getting a flare-up. It doesn’t make any sense, and yet it’s so hard to break free from this vicious circle.

One thing that has helped me lately is reminding myself that everyone is in the same situation. Not with IBS maybe, but so many things can happen at any moment to anyone. And there’s no use in thinking about them. Somehow this helps me put my IBS into perspective and get my mind off it to some extent.

The anxiety of making a bad impression

Whenever I’m around people other than my boyfriend or my family, there’s another form of anxiety that adds to the one about getting sick. I get super anxious that people will have a bad impression of me, or think that I’m weird.

IBS is not the easiest condition to explain and it’s not something I like to talk about with people. The part about trigger foods is fine, but I for sure don’t want to get a flare-up when there are people around!

So not only am I stressing about getting a flare-up, but also about what other people will think of me if I do.

Whenever I feel like that, I try to tell myself that no one will care. People do have their own problems and it’s not like everyone is watching me. And even if they were to notice, they wouldn’t think that I’m weird because getting sick can happen to anyone.

The anxiety of missing out on things

For as long as I have had IBS, I always hated to plan things in advance. I’m just scared of getting sick and missing out. But it’s not always possible to decide everything at the last minute.

Whenever I have an activity or an event planned and I really want to go, I get anxious a couple of days before. I always do my best to avoid even the slightest trigger foods. I try to stay as calm as possible and not provoke any symptoms.

But in reality, the fact that I constantly think about the event makes me more and more anxious. In the end, I usually don’t end up feeling well.

The only thing I can do is remember that the anxiety will pass as soon as I get there. The journey really is the worst part most of the time!

All in all, I know that IBS wouldn’t be as much of a problem for me if I could just turn off the anxiety. But I can’t, and so I’m constantly looking for new ways to stay calm and don’t let it take over my thoughts.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • imonlyhuman
    1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing. Good bless you.

  • Jimski55
    1 year ago

    I highly recommend a book titled “A Headache in the Pelvis” by David Wise and Rodney Anderson. It has helped me a lot so far. The relaxation part is something I can relate to from having done Transcendental Meditation back in the early 70s. I have found a not too distant health provider that has a program for dysfunctional pelvic floor PT and have an upcoming appointment later in September. From what I have checked into it appears they parallel the technique expressed in the book I am reading. I am very hopeful that this will make a huge improvement in both IBS and OAB. You can google the Wise-Anderson Protocol on the internet and find out all about it. That’s where I started.

  • Chris Hall moderator
    1 year ago

    Thanks for the book recommendation, @jimski55! Sounds really interesting. Take care. – Chris, Team

  • Holly5757
    1 year ago

    It is ironic how I usually feel a little better on the weekends just because I am not stressing being in a place that I cannot leave if I feel bad (like work). When I am at work I do not want to call in sick or leave if I feel sick because I do not want to look like a bad employee. Then again, what if I have diarrhea and have to camp out in the restroom? What if my constipation is causing my stomach to make all kinds of disgusting, loud noises? What if my nausea is so bad that I am afraid I will throw up in front of people? It really is a vicious cycle.

  • Chris Hall moderator
    1 year ago

    Completely understandable, @holly5757. Having to deal with flare-ups, or worrying about flare-ups that may happen at work is really challenging. If you haven’t read this already, we recently posted an article with some tips on how to deal with IBS at work: Hope this helps! Thanks so much for sharing here. – Chris, Team

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