Is your Ibs stress/anxiety related?

Hi all, I am 44 and i've had Ibs for at least 15 years.

During that time I've spent a fortune on various 'therapies', diets, foods etc. I've had periods of feeling much better but then it always returns! I've become obsessed over various foods convincing myself they are triggers (gluten, Wheat, dairy etc) but then holidays/relaxed times, I can often eat different foods with few symptoms!

So, I have been thinking recently that just maybe it is all down to my anxious personality.

I've spend so long reading so many articles, books and websites on the condition with so much conflicting advice that even after this long I'm so confused by the whole thing.

Thing is, no matter how much I try to relax, I'm just not a relaxed person so worry I'll have Ibs for ever!

Can anyone else relate?

24 Replies

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  • Hi rustydog I'm 52 now i was diagnosed with ibs 20 years ago, just like you over the years flare ups come and go, diets change everything even medication, as you've said on holiday stress levels are down so can eat more or less anything with no side affects.The past year I've been having flare ups again on and off but past 2 months has been really tough the last 3 weeks everyday no constipation or diarrhea just go to toilet 3_4 times most mornings loose thin stools, then have irritable rectal pain all day most night,have rumbling gurgling tummy really tiring experience.Now again I'm thinking is it food or anxiety is causing this to happen as I'm a generally anxious person, I'm waiting to go for a colonoscopy hopefully soon as it be 8weeks now since I saw the gastroenterologist, wish this all would go away again, how does ibs affect you rustydog

  • Hi Bigmant, I feel that its completely controlled my life, I rarely eat out, don't socialise much as most social aspects always seem to revolve around food/drink. I've spend precious time and money over the years trying to find a 'cure', some useless, some things help but within a short time the symptoms return. And the most depressing thing is that after years of endless online trawling, I very rarely seem to find anyone who says that they have cured their symptoms for good. Are we all destined to be this way for the rest of our lives?

  • Hi Rusty Dog, i understand i am the same but if im careful and fllw the Low Fodmaps and take activated charcoal and garlic oil i can control the bloating....look into SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and Leaky Gut - Canidia overgrowth in the intestines) might help....there are different protocols you can try such as the 5r - but it is hard....i find it hard as nobody seems to understand in my friends and family they think i am a fussy eater or that its in my head....but they dnt live with the discomfort....its so hard sometimes.....but there are loads of options out there for snacks i found APE cocnut curls and ITSU seaweed thins also whizzing up soya milk wiith ice, honey and cocoa with a handful of berries makes an awesome smoothie.....just need to experiement and see what works.....

  • I'm 32 and have suffered from ibs since about 2012, with it gradually becoming more prominent over those years and affecting my life/mental state more and more. It is mainly bloating/uncomfortable feeling with stomach cramps from time to time that I suffer from, and I too have put it down to my anxiety and stress. I find it very difficult, near impossible to relax. I suffer from OCD and depression also which just completely excasibates the problem. No matter what medication (tried CBT also) I've had over the years my anxiety levels are always high and can relate to your post in so many ways.

  • For a couple of days now I've been trying something called Silicolgel which I heard about. It has helped so far I must admit but I'm so so on edge worrying, just waiting for the first sign of my usual symptoms to appear.

  • Oh Robinson, I've been hoping to come across someone who has taken the Silicolgel, I have a bottle sitting unopened in my medicine cabinet but as usual have been too anxious to take it just in case it makes my symptoms worse (that's one of my many issues, I over-think and convince myself medicines etc will make everything much worse!).

    I wonder if it will help? My symptoms (everyday but not all at once!) are heartburn, burping, gassy/windy and painful bloating, stomach and bowel area discomfort/pain, twisted/stitch-like discomfort in right mid area of stomach, sometimes ibs-d, sometimes ibs-c and just an absolute constant fear of needing the toilet quick when I am out and about :(

  • My son has been taking - he is 16 now- and it does help. Only problem is, it took him about 6 weeks to see any effects and we have to continually use it. If he stops the diarrhoea is constant again. He still goes to the toilet he just doesn't spend 24 hours a day in there. Cheapest place is Amazon

  • Definitely give it a try! What helps for one ibs sufferer may not for another but it has helped me somewhat.

  • My symptoms are exactly the same! I have just bought some Silicolgel but like you I'm worried it may set severe symptoms off. Plus I really want it to work and I'm worried if it doesn't I'm back at square one.

  • You should definitely try Silicolgel, it coats all the inside of your intestine so no food irritants will upset you - I take it just ONCE a day before Main Meal as it is too expensive to take three times a day and not necessary anyway!! I would not be without it!! Also try Phenergan Tabs - they are for travel sickness or hayfever but have a very mild sedative too - take ONE before bed and you will sleep SO well and feel more relaxed all next day - perfect if you get anxious over nothing as I do!!! Good luck!

  • Ask your doctor about Gabapentin. My brother has just been given it for nerve pain problems and he says since taking it his IBS bowel problems seem to be better than for the last 40 years.

  • Thanks jonj1 may try it.

    Sashapet I will ask gp about that, thanks

  • Hi there, I'm 64 and have had IBS on and off for the last 15 years ,sometimes having to cancel holidays and outings because of it. I too am a born worrier and over the years have tried numerous things to treat this invisible to everyone else disease . Recently I have been trying solution based hypnotherapy and although I was a bit sceptical at first, I have been feeling more relaxed which in turn has helped the ibs , I take a dose of silcolgel in the morning and a probiotic along with buscopan for the cramps and touch wood have been able to manage things a lot better. I hope my ibs continues to be manageable and I wish you all the luck ,

  • Thanks Jbaird, I've been looking at an Ibs hypnotherapy cd on Amazon. And I will try the silicol gel. Just getting so fed up with this controlling my life :(

  • Yes I can relate. I'm the same way. I'm getting very frustrated because this is the longest I have an IBS attack. I'm beginning to wonder if it's something else besides IBS. I've been tested for celiac, ulcers, H. Pylori, etc and all negative. I have a CT scan scheduled for tomorrow of my abdomen. Hoping that is negative then maybe I'll feel more at ease and I'll be able to relax. Leaving for Florida in 3 weeks and I want to feel better!

  • I had had BS since 2013. I am now 60 years old. I have tried everything from diets, pills, tests, surgeries, Accuputure, Cognitive behavior therapy , etc. everything food drink bothers me. I don't get a break from the pain. I tried to kill myself last on two different occasions. I wish best for all of you.

  • It is such a debilitating condition which should be understood by others far more I believe. Just because it isn't life threatening and people can't see it doesn't mean that it isn't extremely serious for the sufferer. I haven't worked for almost 18 months because of it and currently claim sickness benefit, if i used ibs as my reason for being 'ill' and not being able to seek work it would never allow me to claim welfare. Instead I use my OCD condition as the reason which I know will be taken far more seriously.

    To the post above I so hope that you find some relief and comfort from somewhere. Mine doesn't sound as bad as yours but at 32 the thought of living another 30, 40, 50 years with it is unbearable!

  • Definitely I'm with you sometimes okay with different foods tried wheat and now lactose free which is helping but do suffer with anxiety had hypnotherapy and does help you to relax .when leaving the house in morning it's quiet bad but with breathing technique s helps a lot to help relax your guts so vicious circle when it comes to ibs just keep trying different things hope this is helpful.

  • I do believe there is a definite gut-mind connection. I am a stay at home parent and now my children are older I would love a job but I dread the thought of starting anything new, I just know my Ibs will be bad and I find it REALLY hard to concentrate on anything when my digestive system is rumbling, popping, gurgling, in pain etc. It sounds silly but it's almost like my digestive system is always talking to me, almost like a schizophrenic gut, constantly on at me! I find it really hard to talk and socialise when my gut is 'talking' to me, that makes me appear unsociable but I'm not I'm just scared my guts are going to show me up, I mean you can hardly say to someone 'oh excuse me while I, pass wind/burp/dash to the loo/have to lay flat cause I'm so bloated' , can you? And I hate the term' irritable bowel syndrome' it just sounds comical and not the serious, life destroying condition it can be. I think the very title of the condition makes people not take it seriously enough :(

  • I have been pretty forthcoming to work colleagues, my friends and family about my IBS. If I have to double over, crouch on the ground or do the 100 meter dash to the loo I just tell people 'it's my guts'. They all know I have IBS. The funny thing is people are really curious about it, and often tell me they have similar symptoms. So I can act as an advocate for getting checked out. Mine is both food and stress/anxiety related.

  • I so agree - the advert for Buscopan on TV just makes me laugh - it just seems to state, take one and you will be absolutely fine - the people in it, pop it in their mouth and off they go all smiles!!!!

    If only it was all THAT easy!!!!

  • Jill, I didn't know you could still buy Phenergan I was given it as a child to help me sleep, can you get it off prescription?

    Jenny, I do hope you are able to get some relief from your symptoms, I totally understand the hopelessness you can feel from this and in my experience GP's and the medical profession just don't take it seriously enough :(

  • When you say "anxious personaliy" could you by chance mean "fast thinking, high mental energy"? As in high dopamine?

    Dopamine slows down colon motility. (Serotonin speeds it up.). Stress increases dopamine levels, especially in quicksilvery personality people who probably have their MAO enzymes busted (the enzymes that break down exitatory neurotranmitters. In contrast: people with AD(H)D have too fast working MAO enzymes and therefore low dopamine (focus-hormone) and low serotonin (happy-hormone).

    These hormones are called neurotransmitters when affecting the brain. In the rest of the body they are just as active, especially in the gut.

    There's a documented case of Crohn's being cured by bringing balance to dopamine and serotonin. Look for "amino acid therapy chrohn" to find the scientific article.

  • Whoa interesting comments! Yes like most mental illness it is not taken seriously for some reason. The biggest issue is the worry it causes. I was feeling better after 2 weeks of problems and forgot about it and weekend when out for dinner I went to the toilet twice and my mum kept asking if I was ok. I appreciate her concern and explained it was due to beer making me nees to wee. But then I worried about eating after and was annoyed!

    I have always been a stress head and anxious with it so guess this was destined for me i think.

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