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Breaking the Bond between IBS and Depression

I have written a few articles over the years about my IBS and depression, and I am proud to say that since I began this journey of advocating for myself and others with invisible illnesses, I continued to gain a better handle over my mental health. Now that’s not to say I’m completely depression-free; I’d be lying if I said that I still don’t experience depressive episodes every now and then. Let’s be honest, who seriously enjoys living with a debilitating condition that constantly finds ways to hold the sufferer back in life? When I was new to the invisible-illness community, I didn’t know how to take my condition serious enough to even advocate for myself, let alone for others. I felt so pitiful and miserable simply because I did not want to accept what I was going through, and instead, I fought hard to return to the days of feeling “normal” and “healthy”. Clearly, that act only lasted for so long until my condition started effectively affecting my quality of life and mental health in the worst of ways.

IBS and depression

When I finally came to terms with my IBS, I realized depression was deeply tied to how I felt due to my condition. It seemed to always come along for the ride during and after some of my worst flare ups. Therefore, I had to learn to live with both conditions, which for a newbie is obviously a very hard thing to do. It requires accepting the fact that you also have depression on top of having IBS. When I accepted both of those diseases, I began to notice all of the things they took from me without me being aware at the time. Because of my IBS and depression, I dropped out of college, lost a number of jobs, lost touch with many good friends, and have had deep issues with some family members. At one point, I lost all hope and any ounce of confidence in myself. So basically, learning to live with these conditions was similar to learning to find a reason to live every day.

How I overcame depression

It took me a while, a long while, but I realized a lot of my depression wasn’t just coming from IBS, but also from me. A lot of my mental anguish was self-inflicted simply because of my perception on my condition, and life in general. For instance, I used to compare myself a lot to other people who didn’t suffer from this horrible condition, and because of that I had a hard time keeping my self-esteem high, which eventually lead to a depressive state. One of the hardest things for me to learn was to stop comparing myself to others, and simply accept my shortcomings by finding new and different ways to do the things I really wanted. For me, that was literally a key moment and realization that helped me slowly get out of my depressive-funk and start taking control over my life.

I could go down a list of how I was self-inflicting my own depression in many other ways, but I feel the most important things to point out are the fact that I took accountability for my self-inflicted depression and realized how I needed to change my perception of the limitations placed upon my life. When I finally decided to do things my way, my attitude changed about my condition and dealing with depression became a lot easier overtime. I’ve used this once in an article and I’ll use it again, since it is one of my favorite quotes, “Change your mindset. Change your life.” For me, that’s the key to getting over many obstacles.

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.


  • AmericanDad
    6 months ago

    Very quickly, I think a great under estimation on the part of non-IBS sufferers is this:

    1. No one wants to suffer chronically from something that effects your daily bodily functions so yeah, it’s depressing.

    2. There really isn’t any ray of sunlight in IBS as a diagnosis. Consider this non-IBSers. We are likely stuck with this condition for life. Even if managed successfully, there is no cure. Also, IBS is scary since a;; of the symptoms of IBS pop up for other VERY SCARY conditions.

    3. Who looks forward to a life of proactive colonoscopies.

    Okay enough out of me, I am needing my depression meds just thinking about it.

  • HessP moderator author
    6 months ago

    I totally understand, @americandad! I’m very sorry if this article may have triggered depression for you. The last thing I want is for my articles to induce such negative emotions for people. Please know you are not alone, and we’re all in this fight together. And certainly never hesitate to reach out whenever you need support.

    I agree with your list in regards to what many people without IBS fail to understand about the struggles we IBS sufferers face. I couldn’t have put it better myself, so thanks for breaking it down. Sending lots of positive vibes your way my friend! Stay strong and please never stop sharing with us! Best – Hess, Team

  • KegsMH
    7 months ago

    Hi Hess. I found your article when I was looking up IBS and depression. I was not feeling good at all so it was good to read it. I feel the same way in that I blame myself for why I have IBS, I compare myself to everyone else and feel hopeless that I can’t eat what they eat, I get upset with myself when I am having a flare-up and I waste the weekend doing nothing and your words – “I felt so pitiful and miserable simply because I did not want to accept what I was going through, and instead, I fought hard to return to the days of feeling “normal” and “healthy” – that is me. I try and manage what I eat but I go on a tangent and eat the wrong thing because I’m bored with the same food or I just think for some reason that I can now eat these things and then I suffer and I get down because I am suffering!! But at times I don’t know what has caused it and then I get really depressed. Watching everyone eat cakes at work and going out to lunches can be quite depressing because I miss out and I have to have a major conversation with the wait staff about what the chef needs to do for me – I find that embarrassing in front of others, they just don’t understand, I usually apologise. Anyway, thanks for your article, I do try to change my mindset but I’m not very good at it yet.

  • HessP moderator author
    7 months ago

    Hi, @kegsmh! I’m so sorry you weren’t feeling good at all. However, I’m very glad you found my article and was able to relate. I believe comparing ourselves to others is a self-destructive behavior we must learn to avoid for the sake of our mental and physical health. It took me a while to even get to the point where I am today where I can truly accept and be open about my condition without worry of what others may think anymore. My advice to you is take your time, be gentle with yourself (in other words, no putting yourself down because having IBS is not your fault), and surround yourself more around people who truly support and encourage you to just be yourself, having IBS and all. You can start with us! =) Sending lots of positive vibes your way and please know you’re not alone. Reach out for support anytime! Best – Hess ( Team member & Author)

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