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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Message Board
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Old 02-25-2007, 04:48 PM   #1
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Malabsorption or IBS cause mental health problems?

Last January I started having what felt like a nervous breakdown. I had such an overwhelming amount of anxiety that lead into a panic attack. I ended up at my doctor's office and then ended up at the ER. I was sent home with Xanax and saw a therapist for about 2 months. She told me it wasn't necessary to see her further because I seemed recovered. I have had what was being slightly seen as OCD and Depression which came and went usually around my period (it would intensify). Within the last year it's been 3 months of being fine to 2-3 weeks of hell. I would start off paranoid then a week later couldn't get bad thoughts out of my head and it always ended in feeling suicidal. I've had IBS for 16 years and it's been really unpleasant and I feel like I revolve or live in the bathroom after meals. Some meals I do okay and then others horrible. I was tested 2 years ago for Celiac disease and came up borderline (the doctor wrote Malabsorption with a question mark). I quickly saw a Gastroenologist who said "You are not thin or Irish, you have IBS".

I am wondering if the role of having IBS for years could catch up to my mental health? I've been very mentally sound for 29 years and this past year has been so upsetting. I feel like I am going nuts. I feel like doctors just want to shove you on SSRIs and I do not want to do that. Can anyone give me advice on what kind of doctor I should be seeing? I need to do something literally this week because I am struggling so much. Any response is greatly appreciated.

 
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Old 02-26-2007, 08:52 AM   #2
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Re: Malabsorption or IBS cause mental health problems?

Have you tried using regular B6 sublingual (absorbed under the tongue) vitamins? B6 often doesn't obsorb proplerly through digestion for people with IBS. For people who are lacking B6 it can mean other elements are then missing as well. Might be worth a try, and it can't hurt. Actually I think I will take my own advice and see if I can find some. I've been meaning to try it for some time. My mom started on them a while ago and saw huge benefits.

 
Old 02-26-2007, 03:18 PM   #3
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Re: Malabsorption or IBS cause mental health problems?

Quote:
Originally Posted by faracrossthesea View Post
I was tested 2 years ago for Celiac disease and came up borderline (the doctor wrote Malabsorption with a question mark). I quickly saw a Gastroenologist who said "You are not thin or Irish, you have IBS".
Oh Dear, FarAcross,

I'm afraid you may have been a victim of old school groupthink. To believe that all celiacs are either Irish or wasting away, a doctor must have a mindset locked in the past century. Recent studies have shown that atypical & silent presentations of celiac disease far outnumber the "classic" wasted /Irish /constant diarrhea presentation.

Celiac disease, and also nonceliac gluten intolerance, can present as anxiety, depression, even schizophrenia. Mostly, it is thought, due to malabsorption of critical nutrients; however, in some folks partially digested gluten (also casein for some) peptides can cross the blood-brain barrier & wreak havoc by binding to the certain receptors in the brain.

IMO, the best way to determine whether there is a common denominator named "gluten" that is causing both your IBS & your anxiety, etc. is to do a very thorough dietary elimination of gluten. You will need to educated yourself carefully, as a Gluten-Free diet is unlike any other common diet; it requires total avoidance of barley, wheat, rye & their derivatives, down to the microscopic ppm level. One great way to get up to speed is to join a Gluten Intolerance Group or Celiac Sprue Association support group. Another way to learn all the ins & outs of the diet is to read an authoritative, current book on the subject such as Living Gluten-Free for Dummies by Danna Korn.

Alternatively, you could have your previous test results transferred to a more up to date doc for interpretation & perhaps followup. Did you have endocsopy with multiple biopsy? That is considered the "gold standard" for celiac disease.

But there are many people with gluten intolerance who are not outright celiac. I and my 2 kids are among them (one child is a latent celiac; positive blood tests but OK biopsies). This was not discovered until my kids were a little older, and it explained quite a bit, like why we all did so much better with sublingual B vitamins. -- But I would recommend a supplement with the whole "B family," as the group is related & works together synergistically. We are all on lifelong gluten-free diet, and it has been a miracle for us. My only regret is that we didn't figure it out sooner. I had 50 yrs. (since birth ...) of incapacitating IBS spasms, but they are in my past.

A great place to find a doc who is knowledgeable about gluten/IBS /celiac /mental health, would be at one of those local support group meetings ... where people often share, IME, which docs were helpful.

Best wishes.

P.S. A thorough thyroid workup can be very helpful for those with severe anxiety. Be sure to get thyroid antibodies checked, as well as the level of free thyroid hormone, free T3. The standard TSH screening test will be less than helpful. Many folks with gluten intolerance have thyroid disorders that can precipitate anxiety so severe it is often misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder...

Last edited by elmhar; 02-26-2007 at 03:20 PM.

 
Old 02-26-2007, 06:23 PM   #4
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Re: Malabsorption or IBS cause mental health problems?

Thank you so much for the replies. Saw a doctor today who said the connection to mental health through your stomach does not exist. That panic attacks just happen. I felt really upset. I've had my thyroid tested throughout the years so he didn't feel it was that. Any one who knows me, knows how out of character this all is for me. I suffered from IBS for years, true, but not anxiety attacks. OCD or depression. I left with a script for Zoloft which went into the shredder at home. I contacted a local Celiac group in town and I am waiting to hear if someone can refer me to a better doctor. I think it's nonsense to assume vitamins play no role in mental health, as well as being active. It's amazing how doctors want to give pills out like candy when it's just a bandaid sometimes. I need to find a "smart" doctor who is willing to work with me and not just take the easy way out.

I had a follow up last year and the blood tests came back fine which was upsetting because I was hoping the anxiety came from my gluten intolerance. I had been eating gluten free for about 2 weeks and she said it would not affect the results. I think the main key here is finding a better doctor. I just find it hard to believe years and years of having severe IBS would not take a toll on your system.

I will look into that book, thank you. And also the B6.

 
Old 02-26-2007, 06:25 PM   #5
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Re: Malabsorption or IBS cause mental health problems?

What kind of benefits did your mom see?

 
Old 02-28-2007, 09:36 AM   #6
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desiii HB User
Re: Malabsorption or IBS cause mental health problems?

Quote:
Originally Posted by faracrossthesea View Post
What kind of benefits did your mom see?
Well, she doesn't have IBS in the traditional sense. But she has other illnesses (degenerative arthrisis with calcium deposits, herniated disks, etc.) that require her to take medications. And these medications do a real number on her digestive system. So it's been a challenge trying to keep up with that. The B6 dramatically helped. She can eat pretty much all foods and is mostly regular these days. It also helped her to sleep better at night, gave her more energy in the day, and cleared her head so she's more alert overall. It even helped with some of her pain as well, which surprised her. She started researching more about it and discovered that most people who have digestive problems are lacking in things like B6 because the body stops being able to process them properly. The research also suggested that when people are defficient in some of these vitamins/minerals, it is possible to affect the brain and even create mental health issues. I'm not saying that's the case for you, I have no idea. But it's certainly a simple thing to test and you've got nothing to lose by trying it.

 
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