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Health Anxiety and IBS


Atlas1988
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I thought I would tell my story. Hopefully it will help someone else. I am a 32 year old male who was diagnosed with IBS recently. I have been dealing with IBS symptoms for roughly two years, and I believe (as does my doctor) that it was brought about by extreme anxiety and stress. Two years ago my grandmother, with whom I had a very close relationship, was diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer. She passed away last July after just over a year of struggle. Unfortunately, not only did I develop IBS during this time due to the stress and anxiety of losing a loved one, but also at times severe health anxiety. I began to think that my IBS symptoms were signs of colon cancer, or that the right upper quadrant pain I would feel during flare ups was liver cancer (my grandma had pain in roughly the same area, which is what made her go to the doctor and eventually get her diagnosis). Of course, the anxiety that these thoughts cause only make the IBS worse. I saw my doctor about the issue a couple times before, but she was hesitant to diagnose IBS at first, as she thought it was probably just the extreme stress I was under at the time. However, I went back to her recently and she ran some blood work and ran through my symptoms and came to the IBS diagnosis. This came as a relief, because my doctor is confident that it is not a more serious issue (I have been going to the same doctor for roughly 20 years and trust her judgment). I still have the health anxiety, for which I am seeing a therapist for, so it's still a work in progress. But having a pretty definite diagnosis and knowing I am not alone has helped tremendously.


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I am sorry for your loss. It always hurts when someone we love or a family member passes over.

It's worse when we have watched them struggle with a terminal illness. And there's nothing we can do. I know, because my husband died from prostate cancer. Yet we are asked to soldier on, arrange the funeral, or all the other beaurocratic details, just when we should be still, quiet, and dealing with our grief.

And the worry about possible cancer is an awful cloud to have to live under. I didn't think I had that at the time, but soon after, went through the menopause naturally, and that brought lots of bizarre symptoms of course. I went for months concerned I had uterine cancer (because of the symptoms I was experiencing) I didn 't even have "Dr. Google" to make things worse in those days.

What had happened to my husband, got into my subconscious, and those months were awful. I didn't believe the doctors telling me they found nothing in my bloodwork etc.

What helped me was having to rescue a street dog and live with what she needed every day. It helped to take me out of my own worries, but was extremely hard work! She really helped me to heal from what was becoming health anxiety.

Long story short.....a thorough examination with a consultant showed me (I saw the film) -my lady bits were just fine!

 

Something else.....sometimes we think we'll get something because a family member had it. That is not a given. We will probably end up getting the last thing we expected. That's in my experience anyway. No one in my family had gut problems, or IBS. There you go.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Does anyone else experience panic like attacks, SOB, while going through a flare or at the ending of one?  I have tried food maps, diets, fiber, everything suggested and there is no rhyme or reason for these attacks.  But when the panic/anxiety happens it is always along with the (either) diarrhea or constipation.  The Dr. just prescribed a nerve pill but sure do not want to get hooked on it.  The hyoscyamine (gives me diarrhea) but it does help with the anxiety. 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 5/13/2021 at 8:31 PM, BAK19994616 said:

Does anyone else experience panic like attacks, SOB, while going through a flare or at the ending of one?  I have tried food maps, diets, fiber, everything suggested and there is no rhyme or reason for these attacks.  But when the panic/anxiety happens it is always along with the (either) diarrhea or constipation.  The Dr. just prescribed a nerve pill but sure do not want to get hooked on it.  The hyoscyamine (gives me diarrhea) but it does help with the anxiety. 

Oh yes. A flare always gives me anxiety-like symptoms when it's happening.

When I thought about that, I think it's natural. The body is ramped up and on red alert! All the body signals we are getting are saying "something is wrong!"

Also, the vagus nerve will be very affected,  which can cause a fight-or flight reaction, heart speeding up/palpitations/breathing changes/shakiness etc. And then a feedback loop sets up between body and mind, and it's hard to concentrate on anything else. I do think it's natural, though unpleasant.

I try to find anything I can to do which has a hope of being soothing in any way. Being outside helps me at times like that, and I will do little non-strenuous tasks in the garden. My garden is beautiful with birdsong, wildlife, etc....and luckily only a few steps away from a downstairs toilet! I think being outside in nature has a good calming effect on  me, even when in the middle of an IBS storm.

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  • 4 weeks later...

So very sorry Atlas, for the loss of your grandmother. Your story really hit home to me. I've had no pain in 2 1/2 years from bowel issues but just recently, my best friend was diagnosed with liver cancer. He came home today from a week in the hospital doing tests and we will know soon all the details and the treatment plan. Needless to say, my bowel pain started up and last night I went to the ER with excruciating pain. So I can well relate to your story. I understand your anxiety about whether your pain is something else - I feel the same. I took my friend 3 times to the ER in the past 2 months. The first time they said he was constipated, the second time they said he had diverticulitis, and the third time they did a CT scan and said he has liver cancer. It's so scary. So sorry about your grandmother. I'll keep you in my prayers. 

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