Comorbidity of IBS

I’ve had a rough few weeks.  And I think a lot of it has to do with my anxiety disorder.

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There, I said it.  I have an anxiety disorder.   And I decided I wanted to be free of the daily medications that help calm the nerves (but also contributes to a fat ass), but then the anxiety I think has intensified some of my IBS symptoms.

Comorbidity is the presence of more than one disorder in one person. Lots of cool reports show findings like the relationship between serotonin and gastrointestinal function, and still others like this 2009 study showed GAD was five times more common in people with IBS than people without IBS.  A UNC School of Medicine study states “at least half of IBS patients who have consulted doctors have been diagnosed with an affective (emotional) disorder.” Guys, I’m not a scientist, but I am convinced the stomach is hardwired to the brain.  Does anyone have an alternate explanation for  the reason why I’ve been at odds with my toilet while I’ve maintained my diet but had increasing anxiety?

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I had a really rough physical test this past week, and not only did it push the limits of what I can do with my body physically, it broke me mentally.  I felt like I failed the test.  It brought up lots of negative emotions about how I feel about my body, my weight and my level of fitness.  I worked really hard to pass the test, but all week I couldn’t shake the feelings that I hadn’t passed.

What happened in regards to my poop schedule is that I felt like I had five pounds of junk just dying to get out, and it wouldn’t go. Even when I used my favorite “expeditors,” if you will — coffee and lots of protein — I still couldn’t quite push it out. What little bits did come provided some relief, but I spent lots of time curled in the fetal position, trying to relax that stabbing pain in my side. I’m usually a fart machine and I’m telling you, nothing was happening as I’m used to. As you might have read before, I don’t usually evacuate my bowels if I really have to work for it.

I also spent most of my week feeling nauseated, but I’m not sure if I can put that in the IBS category or the anxiety disorder one. I suppose if they truly are comorbid disorders, then I get a check mark for both.

Today I found out I passed the test.  I drank a cup of coffee after class and promptly pooped what was probably a few day’s worth of excrement. For someone who typically goes daily, that’s a lot of poop.

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So I guess now that I’ve bitched about my week, what can I resolve to do about it?  Obviously the release of anxiety was the answer to my IBS problems this week, so it’s back to the good ol’ self-regulation skills and calming exercises to help ease those feelings (and my bowels…)

Other disorders like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, joint disorder, and pelvic pain also seem to be comorbid with IBS. These overlaps could be due to a common physical cause, a physical expression of emotional discomfort, neurological problems or some other explanation — I think it’s important to investigate the source of your symptoms and address it whenever possible to avoid weeks of toileting hell.

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2 thoughts on “Comorbidity of IBS

  1. Whenever I’m stressed or very rushed at work it’s like I can physically feel my gut tightening and my symptoms almost always get worse. Conversely, I’ve found recently that when I’m out with friends and having a good time, I become completely unaware of any symptoms, even if I’m eating and drinking stuff I shouldn’t. If you’ll excuse the bad pun, sometimes it really feels like a case of mind over (faecal) matter. It also makes me wonder, though, whether people whose stress leads to tight chests have a higher risk of heart attacks.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one, I suppose. My first doctor thought my symptoms were psychosomatic because I would typically feel better if I had a chance to rest or meditate, and then I’d go poop and feel better. But I was like, No, Doc, there’s something wrong here.

      “mind over (faecal) matter.” I like how you think.

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