Scientists from the University of Southern California found Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is linked to depression.
They found patients diagnosed with IBD were nine times as likely to develop depression than the general population. In addition, their siblings who did not suffer from IBD were almost two times as likely to develop depression.
Conversely, patients with depression were two times as likely to develop IBD, and their siblings without depression were more than one and a half times as likely to develop IBD.
The research is published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and was conducted by Bing Zhang et al.
IBD is a chronic condition involving inflammation of the digestive tract, affecting some 1.6 million Americans. Depression affects more than 16 million Americans.
In the study, the team analyzed the data of more than 20 million people from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database.
For 11 years, they tracked patients with either IBD or depression and their siblings without either condition.
The team hypothesizes that many factors may contribute to the bidirectional nature of the disorders, including environmental stressors, the gut microbiome (consisting of bacteria, fungi and viruses) and genetics.
The team says the finding that people with IBD are more prone to depression makes sense because IBD causes constant gastrointestinal symptoms that can be very disruptive to a patient’s life.
And the elevated depression risk among siblings of IBD patients may reflect caregiver fatigue if the siblings have a role in caring for the patient.
What surprised researchers was that patients with depression were prone to IBD.
The team speculates that this discovery may have to do with what is known as the gut-brain axis, a scientifically established connection between the gastrointestinal system and the central nervous system, which consists of the spinal cord and the brain.
The researchers are not sure why siblings of patients with depression are more likely to be diagnosed with IBD.
there may be a shared genetic susceptibility for either disease that presents differently in family members.
The team hopes that the study findings will encourage doctors to take both family history and the link between gut and mood disorders into consideration when evaluating or treating patients with either IBD or depression.
If you care about bowel health, please read studies about diet that could strongly boost your gut health, and this food may worsen inflammatory bowel diseases.
For more information about depression, please see recent studies about a major cause of depression in older people, and results showing lower dose of some depression drug can effectively reduce pain.
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