alt=A worried and exhausted man rests his head in his hand.

Depression, Anxiety, and Panic Disorders with IBS

We recently conducted the 5th IBS In America survey. For this survey, we asked the community about experiences living with IBS in addition to depression, anxiety, and/or panic disorders. More than half (51 percent) of those who took the survey reported having anxiety or panic disorders. Forty-three percent reported having depression.

It is no surprise that many of our IBS community members have depression, anxiety, and panic disorders. According to 1 study, the odds are 40 to 60 percent that someone with IBS will also have at least 1 psychiatric disorder. These disorders may include depression and anxiety.1

Advocates weigh in on depression, anxiety, and panic

We asked the advocates, "Have you experienced anxiety/panic or depression? Can you describe what that has been like for you or ways IBS has contributed to it?"

Amy Dodd Pilkington, IBS advocate"I have depression associated with bipolar disorder. I also have panic disorder. IBS is always agitated by stress, and it seems like an endless cycle of symptoms causing more symptoms. Each of these conditions has a direct effect on the others. If I am dealing with a lot of anxiety, I end up in a nonstop flare. The anxiety over having a flare keeps the cycle going." – Amy P.

Shannon Grantham, IBS Advocate"I have issues with all 3. Sometimes even leaving the house can set me off into a panic attack. Just the thought of not having a bathroom close and knowing I can have an episode can push me over the edge. I love driving and car rides but those as well can push me into anxiety attacks. The depression really kicks in when I am having a long episode that lasts more than a couple of days. Not being able to leave the house or just function as an adult. It's tough." – Shannon G.

Karina Ioffe, IBS Advocate"I've been dealing with anxiety ever since I started having IBS flares. It's based on my fear of getting another sudden flare when I'm not in my comfort zone, so it usually hits when I need to go out. Or worse, eat out. Although I often worry too much about everything, I don't experience anxiety related to anything else but IBS. Basically, it hits whenever I have to be in a situation where a flare would be very uncomfortable. It's the main reason why I work from home, too: I just couldn't handle the constant panic I felt when thinking about my next morning at work." – Karina

Sawyer Matheny, IBS Advocate"I have a generalized anxiety disorder, which is my strongest IBS trigger. Whether it's going on stage or having a stressful conversation or interview. The feeling of anxious anticipation flares my IBS every single time." – Sawyer M.

Share your experiences

How about you? Is depression, anxiety, or panic part of your everyday life, too? What are some healthy coping skills you have developed? Share in the comments below or visit our forums.

The 5th IBS In America survey was conducted online from June 8 through August 3, 2020. All of the 1,930 people who completed the survey have been screened to have IBS symptoms.

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