Slightly less than 10 percent of women in the U.S. get IBS, so who hasn’t wondered, “Am I really just paranoid or is there something wrong with me?” Most of us at some point in our lives have wondered whether a certain pain, or someone’s laugh, or the fact that you are wearing a particular shirt or pants that remind you of someone is an indicator of a physical illness.
Most of us know that the skeptics out there don’t care about the facts. However, new research showing that the gastrointestinal system is often confused with the mind has important medical implications. Just as IBS-like symptoms have been linked to anxiety, general panic disorder and memory loss, findings of a new study at the Center for Health Diagnosis and Treatment (HDE), suggested that “people with IBS were more likely to experience experiences of profound negativity and anxiety” than people without IBS. This may result in changes in stress hormones and other bodily functions — resulting in depressed moods.
While IBS does make it difficult to ignore gut symptoms, and to offer compassion to those experiencing them, researchers say the abnormal symptoms of IBS may well be a result of the brain. For example, the researchers point out that exposure to stress can alter the physical brain responses of individuals with IBS. If they develop IBS, their gut gut reaction to stress may be amplified.
This study may lead doctors to reassess their diagnoses of IBS based on their relationship to stress, as well as other indicators, such as gastrointestinal disturbances and behavior. Dealing with these subjects should always start with a history of proper nutrition and exercise, as well as discussion of other physical and mental conditions. Sometimes in people who have mental health problems, symptoms associated with IBS may be exaggerated, but as good as treatment is, no medication or surgery can cure this stubborn disease.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel’s senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Click here for more information on Dr. Manny’s work with Hackensack University Medical Center. Visit AskDrManny.com for more.