Psychological stress and its therapeutical implications in inflammatory bowel disease.
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There is increasing evidence that psychological stress and associated mood disorders are linked with, and can adversely affect the course of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Stress is perceived to be relieved by smokers, and this, like a lack of knowledge about its adverse effects, and nicotine dependence, could contribute to continued smoking by patients with Crohn’s disease (CD). Stress has previously been shown to influence disease course in patients with inactive ulcerative colitis (UC) but its influence in acute severe UC is not known. Emerging trial evidence supports the suggestion that psychologically-orientated therapy may ameliorate IBD-associated mood disorders, but there is no strong data yet to indicate that stress management has a beneficial effect on the activity or course of IBD. In addition gut-focussed hypnotherapy has been successfully used in the setting of functional bowel disorders. The 4 main hypotheses tested in thesis are: 1. In patients with IBD: (1) poor knowledge of the effects of smoking on their disease and/or (2) high nicotine dependence explain the higher prevalence of smoking in CD than UC 2. Anxiety, depression and stress are more common and worsen outcome in patients with acute severe UC. 3. Stress management in the form of psychotherapy given by a counsellor has a beneficial effect on the activity and course of IBD. 4. Gut-focussed hypnotherapy reduces the relapse rate in patients with UC. The major findings are as follows: 1. Despite more patients with CD being smokers, they were better informed about the effects of smoking on their own disease than UC patients. Nicotine dependence was no higher in patients with CD than UC. In IBD patients as a whole, nicotine dependence was lower than in smokers’ clinic clients and comparable to that of the general population, suggesting that most IBD patients could be weaned off smoking successfully in the IBD clinic.
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