Depression Found to Increase Risk of Crohn’s Disease - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

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Published on March 01, 2013

Depression Found to Increase Risk of Crohn’s Disease 

Finding out that you have a long-term or chronic illness like Crohn’s Disease can be difficult to bear, and it’s common for depression to develop when it seems like everything is going wrong. But have you ever wondered if depression might be the cause of your health issues as well? 

Doctors have now found that depression increases the risk of Crohn’s Disease, proving that there’s more value in looking at the glass half full each morning- and paying more attention to your mental health. 

As many as 1 in 10 adults report being depressed at some point during their lives, and doctors are only in the early stages of discovering exactly how mental health impacts the physical body. 

We already knew a couple of things; for one, depression and stress weaken our immune system. It can also increase levels of proteins that control irritation in those with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). When doctors in Massachusetts took a closer look at the connection, they found that depressed patients’ risk for Crohn’s Disease was more than double.  

For patients who’d been diagnosed as depressed within the last four years, the connection was even greater. In fact, the influence was so high, it was considered as threatening as already-known factors of Crohn’s, such as smoking, oral contraceptives, and anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin.  

If you’re wondering about other types of IBD, such as Ulcerative Colitis, depression was not found to be an influencer. While the reason for the differences is unknown, doctors hope to dive deeper into the issue and solve the mystery of not only the true nature and causes of IBD, but of the true value of mental health as it relates to digestive issues. 

If you’re concerned that you might be experiencing symptoms of depression, you should seek help from your doctor- regardless of whether you’re risk for Crohn’s Disease or other types of IBD. There are some who suggest that early detection of Crohn’s Disease should be accompanied by a mental health evaluation, as it can help delay the development of IBD. Some signs of depression you should look for include: 

  • Prolonged periods of sadness
  • Irritability or frustration
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you usually enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite: Extreme behaviors such as overeating or not eating at all
  • Feelings of worthlessness and/or guilt

It seems that the more we investigate certain conditions, the more interconnected they end up being. It’s a reminder to be ever-vigilant when an issue arises so that it doesn’t turn into something more.

Crozer-Keystone offers a range of board-certified physicians who are trained in the latest technologies and procedures to comprehensively diagnose, manage and treat gastrointestinal and liver conditions. For more information or to make an appointment, visit or call 1-877-CKHS-GI1 (254-7441).

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