What is the role of psychopathology in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Updated: Dec 11, 2019
  • Author: Jenifer K Lehrer, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Psychopathology is the third aspect. Associations between psychiatric disturbances and irritable bowel syndrome pathogenesis are not clearly defined.

Patients with psychological disturbances relate more frequent and debilitating illness than control populations. Patients who seek medical care have a higher incidence of panic disorder, major depression, anxiety disorder, and hypochondriasis than control populations. A study has suggested that patients with irritable bowel syndrome may have suicidal ideation and/or suicide attempts strictly as a result of their bowel symptoms. [11] Clinical alertness to depression and hopelessness is mandatory. This is underscored by another study that revealed that patient complaints that relate to functional bowel disorders may be trivialized.

An Axis I disorder coincides with the onset of GI symptoms in as many as 77% of patients. A higher prevalence of physical and sexual abuse has been demonstrated in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Whether psychopathology incites the development of irritable bowel syndrome or vice versa remains unclear.

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