IBS and increasing anxiety

First post, am 45 been an ibs-d sufferer for as long as I can remember. Controlled by immodium/loperamide for many years.

Recently my anxiety regarding an attack, which then subsequently causes an attack, is getting out of control. Soo depressed about it, just started the FODMAP diet and have felt great but any morning where I need to get up and out is a nightmare. I just panic about the 'what if' etc.

It is such a vicious circle; you worry about an attack which brings on an attack which causes you to worry more and so it goes on. I feel so pathetic when I'm like this.

Am fortunate to have a supportive wife and am trying to face up to my problem and change my diet, record what I eat etc. Having a strict month of FODMAP but am also looking at taking both Regucol and Amitriptyline, not together but to trial each and would welcome comments. Both have good reviews on this site.

Also how to control the anxiety aspect but I suspect controlling the anxiety will be possible if I can control my gut which currently I can't.


9 Replies

  • Anxiety and IBS is such an awful catch-22. I'm IBS-D myself. I've had episodes of incontinence, so I know a little of where you are coming from, though I don't have paralyzing anxiety over it. One thing that helps me is to pack an emergency kit with a change of clothes, toilet paper, adult diapers, garbage bag etc in the car, at my desk at work, carry on luggage etc. I've been really open with work, friends and family so if I need my kit someone can bring it to me. This takes some of the stress away.

    When I've been in real danger of having an accident I try to focus on my breathing. I took a couple of drop in yoga classes and they really teach you to focus on your breath. It can help you take your mind off your guts. I've also used mantras to help me get through a painful or urgent hump. Something like 'this too will pass, this too will pass'. Anything to keep calm - I use them for running as well.

    There's also cognitive behavioral therapy. I haven't tried it but I'm sure someone on here can give their two cents. Might be worth a shot.

    I hope the fodmaps works for you, I had good success with it. My only complaint is that they allow corn on it, which is a big trigger for a lot of people and I wish I would have eliminated it with everything else.

    Good luck - I hope you feel better.

  • I was like you and suffered for years. Two things changed. 1 Fodmap diet for last two years and a self help hypnosis set of CD's. ibsaudioprogram100.com. This teaches you coping mechanisms for the anxiety and helping you to control your bowel movements. Good luck.

    In the meantime you can get a card which explains to other people why you need to use their loo in a hurry. You can also get a RADAR key which opens disabled toilets nationwide.

    The most important thing to stopping yourself being anxious is to accept that you are not alone in this and you would be surprised how many other people also have to rush to the loo! Always try to carry a fresh set of clothes, wet wipes and toilet tissue and if necessary wear appropriate incontinence pants. You will probably never need them but you will be amazed at how they can help your anxiety to reduce just because you have made provision for IF.

  • Hi sorry you are suffering, I suffer from IBS always trying to see what works, taking lemon in warm water in the morning, 1 TBS of olive oil and optibac probiotics and use full fat milk cream and cheese, Probiotics with dinner, I watched a documentary this is what they advised, I am feeling a lot better so will keep it up, hope this helps.

  • Diet could be the answer - I found tha a strict dairy free diet controls my diahorrea symptoms

    Do get a RADAR key - it does relieve anxiety when you know you can use a disabled toilet

    Also if you are still anxious use some ladies panty liners or sanitary towels no-one but you will know they are there !!!!

  • Hello. What you are taking is exactly what I'm taking. I take Imodium. Xanax. Anti spasmodics. And amitriptyline everyday. I feel as I hate leaving the house but as I've changed my job several times due to my stomach and anxiety I need to make money somehow....

    Keep trying to take the medication. Listen to loud music and audio help whilst travelling.

    I also stick to a gluten, dairy, egg, free diet. And low sugar. Or natural sugars only.

  • Hi, I have the same issue, I've started FODmap diet recently and hope that helps. When I go out I used to have to take Imodium and know toilet was nearby. I needed up cancelling holidays and pretty much loosing my social life because of my fears, my friends are really great and understanding but it does not help me deal with the embarrassment if I suddenly have an attack. I have had many accidents and this terrifies me as they are explosive, I need a shower after them and could not cope if happened beyond my home. Whilst my work is understanding unfortunately my actual colleagues think it's something to mock me for and make Jones when I go to loo even knowing it upsets me, this all just worsens my anxiety. My GP is now treating my anxiety and increased my medication for IBS and suggested I take Imodium every 2nd day. I have been really badly depressed and struggling massively this year, but I am trying to keep going out. I am off work just now but hoping to get moved office as my so called colleagues do not help. Family and friends support has been essential for me, also dealing with a GP who understands IBS, anxiety and my fears. It's an ongoing battle, I'm hoping FODmap helps although struggling a little, I downloaded an app which is helping and includes a diary. You are not alone, it is very hard but I'm going out socially again, doing more exercise and trying hard not to let the conditions keep me as a recluse. I hope you keep fighting and slowly overcome your anxiety, everyone develops different coping methods I'm helped as actors I like have a great campaign and their fan base is really supportive of each other. That family, my friends and pets are all helping and I'll always keep fighting, good luck

  • I really feel for you. Have you tried silicolgel? I know several people now who have found it helps relieve their IBS symptoms, especially relating to upset stomachs and diarrhoea. I am lucky that my IBS is mostly stress / anxiety related and, although it has taken 2 decades, I have mostly been able to control it in recent years with a cognitive approach and by having a few comfort items with me all the time. Anxiety / Diarrhoea is a vicious circle and I used to rely on anti-diarrhoea remedies but weaned myself off these using a cognitive approach until none were needed (although still keep a pack in my bag just in case).

    If you are interested in finding out more about silicolgel then there is a facebook page where you can see info and other people's posts about their experiences or info on silicol.co.uk. I was asked to work with the company that distributes this product in the UK in 1999 and again in 2013 to-date. I have been greatly encouraged by the many positive stories we have had back from IBS sufferers. I've just been in contact with two ladies who suffer, both feel they've gained control of their life again using silicolgel. The most common feedback I hear is how people feel they can leave the house without fear, and without the need to know where the next toilet is just in case of an attack.

    A cognitive approach has been invaluable to me. I often feel anxiety when travelling, especially immediately after a meal out, or in rush hour when avenues of escape are not available and no toilets on the commuter trains. But if I rationalise the way I feel, and make sure I have plenty of cool air, even if it means standing all the way by the exit and doors, I do manage it and remind myself to manage one stop at a time. A little battery powered fan has often been my saviour in cooling me down whilst I focus on quietly 'omming' myself to calmness again when I'm feeling as if an attack is imminent. IBS affects different people in different ways and finding coping strategies is so important. I always have a 'comfort' pack available for a 'just in case' moment - as long as I have it, I never need it. I had some health scares last year and the anxiety created in certain scenarios gave me IBS symptoms again. I'm still managing them cognitively and each time I get through a situation I remind myself how amazing that is, and in fact, I'm not as badly affected therefore as my body thinks it is.

    The idea from another person commenting here to get a RADAR card is a really good one.

    I hope you find a way to manage your symptoms more effectively soon and feel happier as a result.

  • Hi. You have my sympathy - I am a 52 year old in a very similar position having had IBSD for 6 years. FODMAP has been a huge help along with Loperamide (Imodium on prescription). Planning a journey is extremely important - learn your service stations & big supermarkets & fast food restaurants, etc. I find FODMAP needs to be accompanied by a low fat diet and plenty of exercise.

    One thing I have started noticing is how certain food combinations seem to stop the problem entirely; with me parsley seems to help a bit and my dietician seems to think that some foods are anti-bacterial and can prevent fermentation from occurring - in some countries enzymes are used to kill off bad bacteria that cause the problem. This is new knowledge to me but I have noticed a huge improvement in the mornings after I eat red chilli, so I am in the process of investigating it. It seems reasonable that chilli could upset the bad bacteria that cause the IBS - has your doc explained that bacterial imbalance is believed to cause IBS?

    BTW thanks for the top tips on the RADAR key. I shall try the lemon juice too.

    One last point

    Good luck.

  • Gu amyttripline may help anxiety just need extra fibre an lots if water to avoid constipation.I'm having bad attack.see my replies to others for ideas if what can trigger n what xqn help some people.hope something v mentioned helps you.cant sleep as now out I pain but guess still stressed over sick daughter n disturbed sleep from last night. Regards graham

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