Irritable bowel syndrome

How is irritable bowel syndrome related to PTSD?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterised by chronic abdominal pain and a change in the frequency or form of stool. Its pathophysiology remains poorly understood but is thought to involve dysregulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, neuroendocrine alterations, and emotional hypersensitivity. Mechanisms that might underly any association between PTSD and irritable bowel syndrome include hyperarousal, an exaggerated response to stress, and hypervigilance to bodily sensations.

What is the evidence for irritable bowel syndrome in people with PTSD?

Moderate quality evidence finds a medium-sized effect of increased rates of irritable bowel syndrome in people with PTSD, and in those exposed to trauma who do not have PTSD, than in people who were not exposed to trauma.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 5:05 am, 3rd August 2021
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