Mental Health and IBD

A strong and healthy body starts with a strong and healthy mind. Mental health is something that we all struggle with at one time or another. When newly diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, alone, and frustrated.

Living with a chronic illness is difficult and it can have an effect on your mental health. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “studies have found that people who have IBD are more likely to develop anxiety and depression.” It is important to be aware of the day-to-day challenges that come with IBD and how to overcome them. Emotional stress or mental instability can in turn contribute to a flare up of your IBD.

As you experience IBD symptoms, you may have trouble eating and sleeping, you may not want to go out and start to separate yourself from others.  This may lead to a development of anxiety or depression.  

It is important to not hold everything inside. Talk to a friend, family member, significant other or a therapist about how you’re feeling. If you hold everything in, you can feel isolated and it can eventually become too much to handle, causing you to lash out. Online support groups are also a great way to get connected with other people going through a similar situation. You may be able to find more support and relief by talking to someone who understands what it is like to have a chronic illness. 

There is nothing wrong with reaching out for support and speaking to a licensed therapist. If you are having a tough time it may be helpful to speak to a third party in a safe space. It is nothing to be ashamed of and it can actually improve your quality of life!

Some things that may help you cope are: taking time for yourself, planning out your day the night before, doing activities you enjoy, having a morning routine, journaling, spending time with friends & family, and getting outside. Take it one day at a time and do your best to be present in the moment.

Trying to be genuinely optimistic is essential as well. Your flares do not define you. Your bad days do not define you. Your struggles do not define you. You should not feel guilty for listening to your body and mind’s needs. Contrary to popular belief, it is okay to have a bad day. You are not alone. Things may be tough right now, but stay strong and keep looking forward. It is absolutely possible to have a fairly normal life with your IBD!
Often times people get so focused on taking care of their physical symptoms that they neglect their mental symptoms. Take care of your mental health the same way you would take care of your physical health.
*If you are having a hard time getting out of bed, thoughts of self-harm or feeling depressed for a long period of time, we recommend speaking with a healthcare professional.