Young people with Crohn’s & Colitis need more Mental health
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New research has found that young people who experience severe Crohn’s and Colitis symptoms are more likely to experience poor mental health, and need extra support as a result.

Professors asked 130 young people who have Crohn’s or Colitis - the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) - about their feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, friendship quality, and embarrassment. They found that experiencing more severe symptoms, such as stomach pain, was related to developing mental health problems

Essentially, their research shows that an unpredictable bout of disease activity – such as a flare – causes anxiety and embarrassment about symptoms like pain, belly noises, incontinence and/or need to rush to the toilet. This leads to not wanting to take part in social activities and this can lead to loneliness and poor mental health.

The team hope that this study will increase the recognition of this problem and open up more opportunities for young people with Crohn’s or Colitis to talk about their mental health in clinic. This would provide them with clinical support to address the challenges associated with Crohn’s and Colitis, including the impact it has on social activities and mental health. Typically, consultations do not address young people’s feelings, mental health, or the challenges that these conditions can create for sustaining friendships and connectedness. While the focus on physical symptoms is important, this study reveals the importance of creating opportunities for talking about well-being and mental health.

Mental health challenges were common among adolescents and young adults with IBD, it was found that those were brought about because of the embarrassment surrounding the condition and the perceived negative impact symptoms had on friendships.