Can gastrointestinal (GI) disorders cause depression?

Lawrence S. Friedman, MD
A small minority of patients have severe functional gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms that can be debilitating, significantly affecting their day-to-day functioning. It's important for these patients to be screened for anxiety and depression. Patients with severe symptoms have a high frequency of psychological diagnoses, such as anxiety or depression, or a history of loss, abuse, or trauma. In some studies, high rates of prior sexual and physical abuse have been found in patients with functional GI disorders -- as high as 56% among patients with severe symptoms. And among patients referred to gastrointestinal clinics -- usually those with more severe symptoms -- functional bowel disorders often started after a time of extreme stress.

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