Are inflammatory bowel disease and depression related?
“This study demonstrates a clinical overlap between both conditions and is the first to investigate the relationship,” said Bing Zhang, a gastroenterologist with Keck Medicine and a co-author of the study. Bidirectional association between IBD and depression in siblings. . This study was explained in detail in Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Taiwanese population data on IBD and depression
Zhang and her researchers analyzed data on more than 20 million people from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database, which contains detailed medical information on more than 99% of Taiwan’s residents. .
For 11 years, they followed patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or depression and their siblings without either, comparing the onset of depression or IBD with that of a control group. patients with no disease but of the same age, sex, and socioeconomic status.
Zhang hypothesized that many factors may contribute to the bidirectional nature of the disorder, including environmental stress, gut microbiota (including bacteria, fungi, and viruses), and genetics.
“Finding that people with IBD are more prone to depression because IBD causes persistent gastrointestinal symptoms that can be very disruptive to patients’ lives,” he said. “And the high risk of depression in siblings of IBD patients may reflect caregiver fatigue if siblings have a role to take care of the patient.”
What surprised the researchers was Patients with depression are more likely to develop IBD. Zhang speculates that the finding may be related to a scientifically established connection known as the gut-brain axis, which contains the spinal cord and brain..
For example, he says that brain inflammation that plays a role in depression may be related to inflammation in the digestive tract, which is a telltale sign of IBD.
Researchers don’t know why siblings of depressed patients are more likely to be diagnosed with IBD. Zhang speculates that family members may have a genetic predisposition to the disease, which manifestations may vary.
Zhang hopes that the results of this study will prompt medical professionals to consider family history and the relationship between gastrointestinal and psychiatric disorders when evaluating or treating patients with IBD or depression.
Through further research and a better understanding of the gut-brain axis, he looks at improving the new link between conditions to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of IBD and psychiatric disorders.