A new study has revealed that 11% of people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome with diarrhoea (IBS-D) have had suicidal thoughts when the condition has been at its worst.
The research, published in the UEG Journal, assessed the burden associated with IBS-D by surveying 513 patients and 679 healthcare professionals.
It was found that a quarter of patients reported that IBS stops them from enjoying life, while 11% agreed with the statement; “when my IBS is bad, I wish I was dead”.
IBS is a functional bowel disorder that characterised by abdominal pain and altered bowel habits. It affects 11% of adults globally, one third of whom experience diarrhoea as the predominant symptom.
How does IBS-D affect your life?
IBS-D is considered to be a brain-gut interaction disorder and a range of treatment approaches have been proposed, including diet and lifestyle modifications, probiotics and fibre supplements, as well as various prescription and over-the-counter medications.
It was found that over a third of patients reported they ‘constantly’ worried about whether and when their IBS symptoms will return, while one in five stated that IBS had negatively affected their working life.
On average, patients also revealed that they spend 18 days per month experiencing fatigue or a lack of energy. Half of patients reported that they would use a daily treatment for the rest of their life if it prevented their IBS symptoms (49%) and 46% reported ‘willingness to try anything’ to improve their condition.
Despite these statistics, the survey outlined that one third of IBS patients do not think that healthcare professionals take the disease seriously and should provide more support in disease management.
Results also showed that two-thirds agreed that patients should feel listened to and supported, with the vast majority stating that the main aim of their care when managing IBS is significantly improving their patients’ quality of life.
A high level of patient dissatisfaction
Professor Hans Törnblom, lead author of the study, said: “IBS can be an extremely tough, emotional and difficult condition to live with and, in addition to dedicating resources to improve the physical burden of IBS, it is essential that care and investment is committed to providing psychological and emotional support for patients. This should come from multi-disciplined healthcare professionals, as well as family members, friends and colleagues.”
“The majority of IBS sufferers do not seek medical advice for their condition” added Professor Törnblom.
He added: “Of those that do speak to a healthcare professional, it is clear that there are high levels of dissatisfaction with the level of care that they currently receive.
“Healthcare professionals experience a degree of uncertainty and complexity in managing IBS patients and the research indicates the need for higher levels of communication between care providers and patients to facilitate improved patient outcomes.”