According to the Crohn’s Colitis Foundation, around 1.6 million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (also called IBD). And the tendency goes upward, as approximately 70.000 new patients are diagnosed every year. 
An interesting fact is that several studies have looked into the relationship between IBD, depression, and the use of antidepressants. And they suggest an interesting link between those!
This article will guide you through the results of two medical studies that have examined the level of prevalence of depression in IBD patients and the relationship with the usage of antidepressants.
But first things first!
Table of Contents
What is IBD?
IBD is a term that describes various health conditions related to chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. The two main diseases that IBD relates to are Crohn’s Disease (may affect any part of the digestive tract) and ulcerative colitis (may affect the large intestine and rectum).
Patients suffering from IBD may experience various symptoms, including :
- Abdominal discomfort
- Swelling in the belly area
- Recurring diarrhea (may also show signs of blood)
- Significant weight loss
- In rare cases, IBD may also cause arthritis, painful and red eyes, painful skin rash, or jaundice (yellow skin).
As some of the IBD symptoms can be confused with IBS (irritable bowel symptoms) and Celiac disease, it’s important to get diagnosed in time. By starting early treatment, you may prevent further complications and organ damage.
What is the relation between IBD and mental health?
Apart from the physical symptoms, several studies suggest the existence of a link between IBD, depression, and the intake of antidepressants.
A research piece in Molecular Psychiatry suggested that depression and anxiety disorders are pro-inflammatory diseases, which may be influenced by gut microbiota changes. Although this study inspired the two research pieces mentioned below, it didn’t examine the particular relationship between mental health disorders and IBD. 
Are depression and anxiety prevalent in IBD patients?
A 2017 study published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology assessed the presence of depression and anxiety in IBD patients through questionnaires, psychiatric interviews, and mental health diagnoses. 
Out of 327 examined IBD patients, 25.8% were found to be suffering from depression, 21.2% suffering from anxiety, and 30.3% were associated with either one or both of those mental health disorders. Besides, the severity of inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract was found to be associated with the degree of depression/anxiety.
The final results of the research suggested a significant degree of prevalence of anxiety and/or depression in individuals with IBD.
Can depression increase the risk of IBD?
A 2018 study published in the “Gut” British Society of Gastroenterology examined the relationship between depression, the use of antidepressants, and IBD diagnosis. The research assessed 6 million patients suffering from depression in a timeframe of 6.7 years. 
The results found that participants who had a medical history regarding some kind of depressive disorder were more likely to develop IBD. Besides, the study found out that patients who were taking specific types of antidepressants as part of their psychological therapy were less predisposed to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Even though the existing relationship between mental and gut health may be surprising, it may lead to significant changes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of both IBD and depressive disorders.