Understanding the Link Between Stress and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – Expert Insights


Stress can manifest in various forms, impacting our bodies in multifaceted ways, from headaches to disrupted sleep patterns and even cardiovascular health. But what about its connection to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a gastrointestinal disorder affecting approximately 11% of the global population?

Experts have long explored this relationship, acknowledging stress as a common trigger for IBS and a factor that can exacerbate its symptoms.

To delve deeper into this association and explore effective management strategies, the OnlyMyHealth team reached out to Dr. Amit Miglani, Director and HOD of Gastroenterology at Asian Hospital, Faridabad.

Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Dr. Miglani delineates IBS as a chronic condition characterized by recurring symptoms experienced for at least three days per month over a three-month period. While the precise cause remains elusive, several factors are thought to contribute.

Abnormal muscle contractions in the gut can lead to discomfort such as cramping, gas, bloating, and irregular bowel movements, including diarrhea or constipation. Additionally, disruptions in the communication between the brain and gut can result in pain and irregular bowel movements, even during normal digestion.

Furthermore, factors such as gastroenteritis, bacterial overgrowth, and imbalances in the gut microbiome may exacerbate or trigger IBS symptoms.

The Stress-Irritable Bowel Syndrome Connection

Dr. Miglani sheds light on the intricate relationship between stress, anxiety, and depression with IBS. While the precise mechanisms linking these psychological factors to gastrointestinal conditions remain unclear, studies, including one published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, suggest a strong correlation. It’s estimated that 40–60% of individuals with IBS also experience stress, and vice versa.

Researchers have identified several ways in which stress influences the gut, including heightened sensitivity, altered motility, and changes in fluid secretion, culminating in symptoms such as cramping, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.

Moreover, stress disrupts the intricate communication network between the brain, gut, and gut microbiome, amplifying the gut’s sensitivity to normal digestive processes and resulting in pain or irregular bowel movements.

Dr. Miglani emphasizes, “Strong emotions like stress, anxiety, and depression can activate certain chemicals in the brain, amplifying pain signals in the gut and eliciting reactions in the colon. Additionally, stress and anxiety may heighten awareness of spasms or discomfort in the colon and impact the immune system, potentially exacerbating IBS symptoms.”

Stress Management for IBS Relief

Given the pivotal role of stress in IBS, stress management emerges as a cornerstone in its treatment. Dr. Miglani recommends a multifaceted approach, encompassing both non-pharmacological and pharmacological interventions.

Non-drug strategies, including relaxation techniques such as acupuncture, acupressure, meditation, and hypnotherapy, can aid in symptom alleviation by promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and restoring emotional balance.

Acupuncture, involving the insertion of tiny needles into specific points on the body, and acupressure, akin to massage therapy, enhance blood flow and alleviate symptoms. Meditation fosters mental relaxation and emotional equilibrium, while hypnotherapy facilitates deep relaxation under the guidance of a trained professional.

In addition to these non-drug modalities, medications targeting serotonin levels or antidepressants may be prescribed to manage stress-related symptoms effectively.


The intricate interplay between stress and Irritable Bowel Syndrome underscores the importance of holistic approaches in its management. By addressing stress through a combination of relaxation techniques and pharmacological interventions, individuals with IBS can experience significant relief from symptoms.

As research continues to unravel the complexities of this relationship, integrated approaches that prioritize stress management are poised to enhance the quality of life for individuals living with IBS.

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Up Next

New Study Reveals Link Between Depression, Anorexia, and Gut Microbiota

A recent study published in BMC Psychiatry sheds light on a potential connection between major depressive disorder (MDD), anorexia, and gut microbiota. Led by researchers at the First Hospital of Shanxi Medical University, the study suggests that individuals with both depression and anorexia exhibit distinct patterns in their gut bacteria, particularly involving the presence of a specific bacterium called Blautia.

Depression, characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in daily activities, affects millions worldwide and is often accompanied by a high risk of suicide. Anorexia, marked by reduced appetite and distorted body image, commonly co-occurs with depression, complicating treatment efforts.

Gut Bacteria’s Role in Depression and Anorexia

Up Next

Anxiety Alleviation: Dietitians Recommend 4 Drinks to Lower Anxiety

In a world where stress and anxiety are prevalent, with up to 19% of U.S. adults experiencing prolonged anxiety, the quest for effective coping mechanisms continues.

While traditional treatments like medication and therapy remain pillars of support, emerging research suggests that dietary choices, including hydration, might play a significant role in managing anxiety levels.

Drinks to Lower Anxiety You Must Know About

Here, we delve into the top drinks to lower anxiety recommended by dietitians –

1. Chamomile Tea: Renowned for its calming properties, chamomile tea contains apigenin, a flavonoid compound known for its anti-anxiety effects. Wan Na Chan, M.P.H., RD,

Up Next

Managing Autoimmune Disorders Through Yoga: Effective Practices to Consider

In recent years, the intersection between holistic practices like yoga and conventional medicine has garnered significant attention, particularly in the realm of managing autoimmune disorders.

A burgeoning body of research suggests that incorporating yoga into treatment plans can offer tangible benefits for individuals grappling with autoimmune conditions. From rheumatoid arthritis to lupus, yoga’s gentle yet powerful techniques hold promise in alleviating symptoms and improving overall quality of life.

Yoga, with its emphasis on mindful movement, breathwork, and relaxation, provides a multifaceted approach to managing autoimmune disorders. The practice not only addresses physical symptoms but also targets the underlying stress and inflammation that often exacerbate these conditions.

Up Next

Pregnancy Linked to Accelerated Aging Process in Women, Study Finds

In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers shed light on a compelling connection between pregnancy and the aging process in women.

The study, led by Calen Ryan, an associate research scientist at the Columbia University Ageing Center, suggests that women who have experienced pregnancy may exhibit more signs of biological aging compared to those who haven’t. Intriguingly, the research also indicates that the aging process may accelerate with multiple pregnancies.

Ryan commented on the findings, stating, “We’re discovering that pregnancy leaves lasting effects on the body. While not all are negative, it appears to heighten the risk of certain diseases and overall mortality.”


Up Next

Unlocking Hoarding Disorder: Understanding, Support, and Effective Solutions

Hoarding disorder, a mental health condition characterized by persistent difficulty in parting with possessions and accumulating excessive clutter, affects millions of individuals worldwide. Here’s what you need to know about this often misunderstood disorder and how to support those who struggle with it.

Defining Hoarding Disorder:

Hoarding disorder is a complex mental health condition marked by a compulsive urge to accumulate possessions, leading to overwhelming clutter and difficulty discarding items.

According to experts like Brad Schmidt and Gregory Chasson, individuals with hoarding disorder often experience distress at the thought of parting with their belongings and may also have a strong desire to acquire new items.

Up Next

Understanding Cherophobia: Signs, Causes, and Coping Strategies

Cherophobia, a condition characterized by an aversion to happiness, has garnered attention for its impact on mental well-being.

Derived from the Greek word “Chairo,” meaning “I rejoice,” cherophobia manifests as an irrational fear of experiencing joy. Therapist Carolyn Rubenstein explains that this fear often stems from anxious thoughts associated with past trauma or childhood experiences linking happiness to negative outcomes.

Signs of Cherophobia

Recognizing the signs of cherophobia is crucial for identifying individuals who may be struggling with this condition:

Feelings of Guilt and Unworthiness: Those with cherophobia experience guilt and unwor

Up Next

Stress Can Lead to Cortisol Belly: Here’s How to Fix It

Stress can affect our lives in many ways, from our mental health to our relationships, but it can also lead to physical symptoms such as ‘cortisol belly’. Cortisol belly, named after the stress hormone, has been widely discussed on social platforms such as TikTok, with users and experts explaining how it occurs, and theorizing what could be done about it.

While you may not have heard of the term ‘cortisol belly’ before, you might have heard of stubborn belly fat or stress belly, which are essentially the same thing. This is because it refers to the accumulation of visceral adipose tissue around the stomach, which has been linked to prolonged exposure to elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

What Is Cortisol Belly?

According to dietitian