Digestive Health

02 December 2010

Study suggests link between Crohn's Disease and PTSD

Researchers suggest doctors address psychological needs of patients with the digestive disorder.


Researchers suggest doctors address psychological needs of patients with the digestive disorder.
Crohn's disease may cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a new study contends.

The study included nearly 600 Swiss adults with Crohn's disease, an incurable inflammatory bowel disorder that causes severe pain and diarrhoea.

The study participants underwent PTSD assessment at the start of the study and 19% of them were found to have the disorder. All the participants were monitored for 18 months. The researchers found that Crohn's patients with PTSD were more than 13 times more likely to experience worsening symptoms than those without PTSD.

The study appears 2 December in the online edition of Frontline Gastroenterology.

PTSD can be cured

Crohn's can't be cured but PTSD can, and doctors treating Crohn's patients need to be alert for PTSD and refer patients for appropriate therapy, said the researchers, led by Roland von Kaenel, a professor with Bern University Hospital, in Switzerland.

PTSD is typically triggered by violence, natural disasters and emergency situations. But a growing body of research shows that serious illness, along with diagnostic and treatment procedures, may trigger the psychological condition.

Over a long period of time, PTSD can permanently change the body's hormonal and immune responses, making a person more prone to serious health problems, the researchers said.

"In most cases, patients avoid talking about cures which remind them of having the disease," the researchers wrote in a news release from the journal's publisher. "Such behaviour may unwillingly be encouraged by the usual shortness of consultation time and unfamiliarity of [gut specialists] in dealing with the psychological needs of their patients."(HealthDay/ November 2010)

Read more:
Pattern in PTSD brain activity
Link between PTSD and dementia
Crohn's disease
Probiotics help for bowel disease


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Digestive Health Expert

Dr. Estelle Wilken is a Senior Specialist in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology at Tygerberg Hospital. She obtained her MBChB in 1976, her MMed (Int) in 1991 and her gastroenterology registration in 1995.

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