Anxiety and IBS

I posted a few weeks back about my ongoing issues with anxiety related IBS. I am positive it is solely anxiety related as I never have flare ups with diet. I have had a couple of really awful experiences lately with car journeys in particular. As soon as the anxiety starts I get urgency for the loo even if I've just been. Then the panic of being in the car and not knowing where the next toilet might be makes it even worse. Today I had a full on panic attack, retching as well as being desperate for the toilet. It was only by sheer luck that we made it to a service station and I was in such a state that I just burst into tears with relief. The thing is that because I've had a few experiences like this now, each journey becomes a huge ordeal for me and this makes the anxiety worse. I dose myself up with immodium but it doesn't help because it doesn't sort the root cause which is the anxiety. It's getting to the stage where I think I might need some sort of medication to deal with this. But I'm reluctant to start taking any medication as it only seems to be in certain situations that it comes on - I guess my brain is wired to things like car journeys or new places where I don't know where the loo is as being 'dangerous'.

Does anyone have any advice on how I can help? Has anyone taken anxiety medication and how does it work? Is it something that needs to be taken daily or just when you get panic attacks? And does it interfere with your mood and day-to-day lifestyle?

I'm going on holiday in a few months and genuinely don't know how I'm going to make the trip. I wish I could re-train my brain. I feel so low.

10 Replies

  • Your experience is just like mine . I do a self help hypnotherapy course which has helped a bit. Other than that I do Fodmaps diet which has also helped but I do still have to rush so don't go on holiday etc. you have to just get thick skinned in terms of requesting to use toilets where ever you are and also availing yourself of the countryside I'm afraid. I was offered amytriptyline to help me with anxiety but it didn't help and made me feel awful so stopped after one month. If you find anything at all I would be interested to know. Good luck.

  • I have exactly your issues and I feel for you. I have tried hypnotherapy and it did give some relief, the issue is you have to continue to use it and the exercises around it every day and it's easy to get complaisant when things are going ok. I would suggest an NLP programme talk to your GP about a referral and also look online. There are options that will help but it needs your 100% commitment too, it sounds like you're at the point like where you're willing to give that. the other thing I suggest is tell people, tell your family, colleagues and friends if you haven't already, you will be amazed how understanding people are. Have you joined the IBS network? There is lots of info and are lots of stories like yours that you can share to give people an idea of how travelling etc makes you feel and that you're not alone. Sometimes just knowing that helps a little and telling the people around you gives you one less thing to be anxious about. Hope that helps. K

  • Thank you for the tips and understanding. On the advice of some other people on here I have tried to use a 'safe' word to calm me down on trips and sometimes it does help a bit. But once the initial symptoms of the anxiety start, I just struggle to keep it under control. I think a lot of it is due to the panic of not getting to a toilet. I have tried using immodium as a way to feel safe - for a while taking immodium before I went out almost made me think 'well nothing bad can happen now' but that no longer works for me and besides, it's not good for me to keep using it so regularly.

    I am at the point where I'm willing to try pads/pants just to feel a bit more in control. Hopefully then I can think that even if the worse happened, I'd be protected and my anxiety may not rear it's head at all. At 28 I never expected to have to be buying incontinence material and I feel mortified that it's come to this :(

  • In your case, I suggest you really need to get to the source of the problem - not with medication (it can only do so much and it really only masks the problem) - and deal with the anxiety ie your thoughts and thought process and learn some relaxation techniques. I'm certain a few sessions with a psychologist would be able to take you through things and steer you in the right direction - as someone else suggested, it would need your commitment and application but given that you should see improvements and feel in control of things again.

  • Don't let it beat you otherwise you loose your life. I understand how you feel and for me I have a basic emergency loo in our van and an emergency kit ie wet wipes, spare pants, sanitizer. It helps with the anxiety and I can get from A to B. Good luck and don't give up x

  • I know exactly how you feel. I have suffered with the same for 30 years. There is no pattern regarding food although some things definitely make it worse but I'm sure that this is different for everyone. I don't think that you should see medication as the answer, you can't take it forever and it could cause other problems. I use Immodium whenever I am going anywhere, or if I have a meeting or important event in work. Telling people, as another respondent advised, is also really helpful. Be strong. You can manage this by putting in place all of the strategies that you know will help you. You take control and don't let this spoil your life.

  • Hi I'm glad you too suffer from i.b.s and anxiety I think my problems are now causing panic attacks too, am due to see my doctor shortly as I've had pains in my chest and down my arm this weekend. Doctors don't listen do they, I've now put a complaint to my surgery manager, even eating today is causing pain! I'm 41, never 73, I wish doctors would understand stress, anxiety and i.b.s!

  • I didn't quite mean I'm glad you have it ha, ha, just you're the same as me and it means I'm not going mad, or thinking it's all in my mind, has your doctor offered you antidepressants yet, look out for that!

  • I've had this problem but manage it this way, at one time I was scared to leave the house. I changed my way of thinking. One day I decided this curse was not going to beat me so I went for walk not knowing where any toilet facilities were. I listened to some fav music and went for 10-15 mins the first night then gradually went further from the house until I could at least be away for a decent. time, it was mostly trying to get my brain to accept I was ok. Seems to work to a certain extent as I am not so nervous now,my brain has been ' trained' to a certain extent. Stil have some 'moments' but am much better at managing my nerves.

  • I thought until I joined this site that I was the only one with this problem, everything littlemissbee is going through I am too I could have written that myself. My family are understanding but sometimes they even find it hard to see how seriously it affects me. I have now decided to look at my diet to see if that will make a difference. Never been to GP just take immodium and hope for the best when going out.

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