Study finds interconnection between Depression & Inflammatory Bowel Disease

By Arya M Nair, Intern Reporter
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Gut Health
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A new study from Keck Medicine of USC has showed bidirectional link between depression and Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

According to the study, patients diagnosed with IBD were nine times as likely to develop depression than the general population. In addition, their siblings who did not suffer from IBD were almost two times as likely to develop depression. Conversely, patients with depression were two times as likely to develop IBD, and their siblings without depression were more than one and a half times as likely to develop IBD.

Mr. Bing Zhang, MD, a gastroenterologist with Keck Medicine and co-lead author of the study, with fellow researchers analyzed the data of more than 20 million people from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database, which contains comprehensive medical information on more than 99 percent of Taiwanese residents.

They tracked patients with IBD or depression, as well as their siblings who did not have either condition, for 11 years, comparing the onset of depression or IBD to a control group of adults who did not have either condition but were of the same age, sex, or socioeconomic level.

Researchers were surprised to discover that people with depression were more likely to develop IBD. Mr. Zhang hypothesizes that the discovery might have to do with the gut-brain axis, a scientifically proven link between the gastrointestinal system and the central nervous system, which includes the spinal cord and the brain.

The researchers are not sure why siblings of patients with depression are more likely to be diagnosed with IBD. Mr. Zhang surmises that there may be a shared genetic susceptibility for either disease that presents differently in family members.

Mr. Zhang hopes that the study findings will encourage health care professionals to take both family history and the relationship between gastrointestinal and mood disorders into consideration when evaluating or treating patients with either IBD or depression.

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