This common bowel problem may increase depression risk

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of conditions in which the intestines become inflamed (red and swollen).

Two major types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Ulcerative colitis influences the large intestine (colon) whereas Crohn’s disease can occur in any part of the intestines.

Common symptoms of the disease include abdominal cramps and pain, severe urgency to have a bowel movement, loss of appetite and weight loss, frequent and bloody diarrhea, and fever.

In a recent study from the University of Exeter, researchers found that depression is common in people with IBD. Depression was linked to more severe IBD symptoms.

In addition, a cognitive bias in emotional recognition (a reduced ability to recognize basic emotions in others) may play a role in this link.

The study is published in Neurogastroenterology & Motility. The lead author is Chris Dickens, Ph.D. from the University of Exeter.

Previous research has shown that people with IBD are more likely to have depression, but the actual causes of depression in this group are unknown.

In this study, the team examined the role of emotional processing biases in depression among people with IBD.

They tested 120 people with IBD. The people’s anxiety, depression, and emotional regulation ability were examined.

They found that 26 people had depression. These people were more likely to be women, lack social support, have severe IBD, and exhibit less positive emotional recognition bias.

Recognizing emotional expressions is central to understanding the feelings and intentions of other people.

Recent research finds a recognition advantage for happy expressions over negative expressions. This is a positive cognitive bias in emotional recognition.

The less positive emotional recognition bias in depressed IBD patients might show that they had issues in emotion functions.

The team says negative cognitive biases associated with IBD activity may lead to the development of depression in people with IBD.

Psychological interventions focusing on emotional recognition biases may be used to treat or even prevent depression in these patients.

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