IBS and your mental health

Due to the effects that IBS can have on your ability to perform day to day activities such as working and socialising, some people may experience changes in their mood.

There is evidence suggesting psychological factors play an important role in IBS, this is due to the link that exists between the brain and gut, often called the ‘gut-brain connection’. In some people, the gut-brain connection can trigger or worsen symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation and nausea.

Instead of trying to remove stress altogether, you can focus on managing how much stress you encounter on a daily basis and change the way that you respond to stress.

Some ways to manage stress include:

  • identifying your stressors and see if there are some things within your control to manage or change
  • relaxation techniques – such as breathing exercises, or doing activities that you find relaxing
  • taking time out for friends, family and activities you enjoy
  • regular exercise – such as yoga, walking, running or swimming

You can also listen to NHS Public Health Scotland’s podcast, Steps for Stress.

Accessing further support

There are several different types of psychological therapy. They all involve teaching you techniques to help you understand and self-manage your condition more effectively.

The availability of psychological interventions on the NHS may vary between NHS health boards.

Speak to your GP if you have ongoing feelings of low mood, stress or anxiety that are affecting your daily life or impacting your ability to manage your IBS. Your GP will advise on the best support option for you.

Support groups

There is a large community of people with IBS and charities such as GUTS UK and The IBS Network, who can provide further information and advice on how to live well with IBS.

Last updated:
23 February 2023