Alicia Benjamin, a social media manager for MeYou Health, a “social well-being company,” said in an email that she has IBS and that it also runs in her family.
“There is, without a doubt in my mind, a direct link between IBS and the gut, and how I feel about myself and the world,” Benjamin said.
“On good days, I am unstoppable. On the days I suffer, I am sluggish, moody, and pessimistic. Even with a balanced, wholesome diet, how I feel often feels, well, out of my control. It can be discouraging and embarrassing. You'd never know it by looking at me - I work out, I eat right, I get plenty of sleep. And yet, there's this ‘black cloud’ that follows me around and is always on my mind: Am I going to have a good day or a bad one?”
Patsy Catsos, a registered licensed dietician, author of “IBS – Free at Last!” and editor of www.ibsfree.net, said in an email that she doesn’t think mental health issues cause IBS but there is a link between the two.
“Bingeing and compulsive overeating usually mean large portion sizes,” Catsos said.
“Sometime people with OCD or bipolar disorder get carried away to diet extremes of various kinds. Large portions of certain sugars in the diet can trigger bouts of gas and watery, urgent diarrhea hours later. You might already know that large portions of lactose in milk, yogurt or ice cream bother you. Fruit sugar (fructose) can cause a similar effect when you eat lots of fresh fruit, dried fruit, or fruit juice.”
She said sometimes medication used to treat mental health disorders can cause other issues like dry mouth, and patients sometimes will chew gum or suck on candy and cough drops to counteract the dry mouth, which can lead to diarrhea.
“Sometimes IBS patients with anxiety have a tendency to over-restrict their food intake in an effort to reduce symptoms,” Catsos added.
She said that it’s important for IBS sufferers to talk to a registered dietitian because diet changes can sometimes relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
“I do not believe that IBS is caused by mental health issues, though stress and anxiety can make the symptoms worse,” Catsos said.