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Gastroenterology Research and Practice
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 106502, 11 pages
Review Article

Psychological Issues in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: An Overview

1Department Psychology, College of Educational Science and Psychology, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran
2Integrative Functional Gastroenterology Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

Received 20 January 2012; Revised 18 April 2012; Accepted 19 April 2012

Academic Editor: P. Gionchetti

Copyright © 2012 M. S. Sajadinejad et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) including Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic and disabling disease with unknown etiology. There have been some controversies regarding the role of psychological factors in the course of IBD. The purpose of this paper is to review that role. First the evidence on role of stress is reviewed focusing on perceived stress and patients’ beliefs about it in triggering or exacerbating the course of IBD. The possible mechanisms by which stress could be translated into IBD symptoms, including changes in motor, sensory and secretory gastrointestinal function, increase intestinal permeability, and changes in the immune system are, then reviewed. The role of patients’ concerns about psychological distress and their adjustment to disease, poor coping strategies, and some personality traits that are commonly associated with these diseases are introduced. The prevalence rate, the timing of onset, and the impact of anxiety and depression on health-related quality of life are then reviewed. Finally issues about illness behavior and the necessity of integrating psychological interventions with conventional treatment protocols are explained.