Researchers from Southampton university have found a link between stress and IBS.
For a long time many people who suffer from IBS (and many self-styled nutritionists) have suspected that the symptoms are caused, exacerbated, or lead to stress.
The study found that those people who were anxious about their symptoms or who were generally stressed in terms of pushing themselves at work were more likely to suffer from IBS.
There could well be 3 million people in the UK with IBS, many of whom contracted it after a gut infection.
The type of person who does suffer from IBS is likely to be “driven”, carrying on regardless until they were forced to rest.
Dr Rona Moss-Morris commented that “These people were not hypochondriacs. But they did have a negative attitude towards their symptoms.”
She added: “These are people who have high expectations of always doing the right thing – and going off work goes against their beliefs.”
It is thought that CBT might help bring anxious and perfectionist thinking under control.
Professor Robin Spiller gave two possibilities:
“It might be that stress and anxiety affects the immune system. “But it could also be that if you don’t rest, it might do you more harm.”
The important things are to get checked out, rest until you completely recover from gut infections, and learn to relax and let go.