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Some Of My Misconceptions About IBS

Some Of My Misconceptions About IBS

When I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease) at the age of 13, my GI immediately told me that I did not have IBS, which she referred to as a disorder brought on by stress. At that age, I didn’t think much of it but I never really took anyone’s diagnosis of IBS seriously when I was younger because that had been in my head for so long.

I kind of always thought that it was the occasional upset stomach, some cramping, bloating and discomfort but nothing more than what most women experience because of their menstrual cycle.

I also never really thought it was anything that lasted for more than a day or so.

I believed that if someone just changed their diet, all of their symptoms could be avoided or at least, manageable to the point that it wouldn’t impede on someone’s life.

I thought, because of what my doctor said so many years ago, that IBS was tied into someone’s emotional state.

As I got older and started understanding more about how the world works, that last thought I had pretty much went away. I realized that IBS sufferers are caught in a catch-22. They have the disorder which can understandably cause a person to feel more anxiety or depression than a person without gastrointestinal issues would, but these people were probably just being sent off to a therapist to help them deal with their GI issues which alone, isn’t helpful in the least.

I understand about the mind/gut connection and learned it was applied a lot more to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) than any other GI diseases. This made me want to research more why there were so many articles and medical professionals believing that IBS is a disorder brought on because of a person’s mental health. I now know that there are so many chemicals and genes at play with irritable bowel syndrome that it can impact how a person perceives pain, responds to discomfort, reacts to situations, etc but none of that is within a person’s control. It is a true illness that presents physical pain and suffering. And in many individuals, emotional pain and suffering.

IBS is very poorly understood by everyone, including the medical community and a large number of patients. There is a ton of conflicting information that patients and caregivers are given and understandably, given the desperation, many people do whatever could to conceivably help their situation. And when those things they read on the internet or hear from a friend of a friend who knew someone with IBS don’t help, it can cause even more frustration and feelings of hopelessness.

I am learning that just as it takes a very special gastroenterologist to manage and understand my inflammatory bowel disease, it takes a special kind of GI to help a person manage and understand how their IBS is impacting them so they can receive the best quality of care. Someone who doesn’t understand your history and all of the trial and error that has probably ensued since your diagnosis (with foods, medications, lifestyle changes, etc) will have a hard time really helping you, in my opinion. Obviously, we all have to start from scratch with doctors at points, but establishing that relationship and really having someone who you feel is on your side and really gets it the best they can is really helpful. In addition, it always gave me hope when I felt like my physician and I were working together to find the best course of action.

I appreciate you reading some of the common misconceptions/stigmas associated with IBS that I have had. It is because I have decided to become educated through quality resources that I now know those things I once believed to be true, are not at all accurate.

We need more accurate awareness and resources for IBS available!

Are there any other myths about irritable bowel syndrome that you feel should be debunked or at the very least, discussed among the community? We always love input from our fellow community members.

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.


  • DorisE
    2 years ago

    Hallelujah, Marisa. Thank you. Everyone deals with stress on a daily basis, from minor irritations to major, bur we DO NOT all have bowel problems … from minir to major.
    Over the years there have been many misconceptions about many medical and other issues.

  • Odin
    2 years ago

    I totally agree stress has a lot to do with it. My daughter is a recovering alcoholic and I can not stop thinking about it!! That stress is with me constantly.

  • Chris Hall moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi, Odin – thank you for sharing with us. I can see how your situation is stressing you out. I wanted to share a recent article written by one of our contributors (he is also a recovering alcoholic) that I hope you find encouraging. I would definitely recommend reading more of his articles, too!

    Please come back anytime you need support!

    Take care,
    Chris, Team Member

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