Stress and IBD

There is so much I want to talk about during crohns and colitis awareness week. The first topic I want to share with all of you was brought up by Oakland Behavioral Health, LLC and that is stress and its relationship to Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I think this is just one of the many things the public is extremely misinformed about so I want this post to clarify stress’ relationship to those suffering with ulcerative colitis or crohns disease.

Stress does NOT cause anyone to be diagnosed with ulcerative colitis or crohns disease. That statement is factual and scientifically proven. According to Oakland Behavioral Health, LLC, about 90% of patients say stress aggravates their IBD symptoms and roughly 75% believe stress caused them to be diagnosed with IBD. I won’t attempt to argue with statistics because after all, these numbers are what patients believe and not what has been proven to be accurate. Upon further discussion, I learned that those 75% of people believe their symptoms started after a stressful event which I am sure may be true for many. I just whole heartedly believe that those people would have been stricken with the disease anyway and maybe that stressful event brought the symptoms to the surface.

When I was 14 years old, a year after I was diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis, my dad’s mother said something to me that I will never forget. She told me that my parents caused me to get IBD because of the “enormous pressure” they put on me and that if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have had to suffer so much. First of all to set the record straight, my parents have always been supportive of me and have never put pressure on me (if you read my blog, you will know what my parents are like). But, my dad’s mother has continued to tell me over the years how beneficial it would be for me to get away from my parents and that if I did, my symptoms would improve and my overall health would be better. Past generations were brought up to believe that anyone who had constant upset stomachs or irritable bowel type issues was caused by stress. That is a falacy that was passed down from generation to generation. Now there is a much  more scientific studies of this which prove just how inaccurate this way of thinking is.

The bottom line and what I want anyone who reads this to take away from it the most is that stress does not and has never been the cause of someone developing ulcerative colitis and crohns disease. Stress can absolutely exacerbate symptoms which is why my pediatric gastroenterologist always told me she sees an influx of patients around September when school is starting and the holidays are often difficult for many. Stress can wreck havoc on anyone’s body, not just people who develop IBD. I will admit what must be very obvious to most of you which is that IBD caused me to become a stressed out person. But, I can say with absolute one thousand percent certainty, stress did not cause mine or anyone else’s disease.

  • Sherri

    So glad you addressed this misconception! As you know, I believe that stress always attacks the part of ones body that is most vulnerable….for those with IBD I guess it’s the digestive track. People with back problems, neck pain, headaches feel it in their back, neck, head, etc…although the stress didn’t “cause” the issue. Comments regarding Dads mother and her “diagnosis” will have to be saved for a more private forum…:)

  • Amanda Brooke

    My symptoms cause my stress.
    Stress does not cause my symptoms. They might be harder to manage when I’m stressed out, but they are not CAUSED by stress.

    This is seriously what I have to say to everyone.

    • rissy26

      exactlyyyyyyyy. It gets stressful having to SAY it so many times! lol