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      The Effect of Emotional Stress and Depression on the Prevalence of Digestive Diseases

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          Epidemiological data indicate that emotional stress and depression might influence the development of gastrointestianl disorders and cancers, but the relationship between the two is still unclear. The aim was to investigate the effect of stress/depression on the prevalence of digestive diseases. In addition, we tried to identify whether stress and depression are risk factors for these diseases.


          A total of 23 698 subjects who underwent a medical check-up including upper and lower endoscopy were enrolled. By review -ing the subject’s self-reporting questionnaire and endoscopic findings, we investigated the digestive diseases, including functional dyspepsia (FD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), reflux esophagitis, peptic ulcer disease, and adenoma and carcinoma of the stomach and colon. Stress and depression scores were measured by the Brief Encounter Psychosocial Instrument and Beck’s Depression Inventory, respectively (Korean version).


          Stress and depression were related to FD, IBS, and reflux esophagitis. Depression was also linked to peptic ulcer disease and adenoma/carcinoma of the colon and stomach. Multivariate analysis revealed that stress and depression were independent risk factors for FD (OR, 1.713 and 1.984; P < 0.001) and IBS (OR, 1.730 and 3.508; P < 0.001). In addition, depression was an independent risk factor for gastric adenoma/carcinoma (OR, 4.543; P < 0.001).


          Stress and depression are related to various digestive diseases, and they may be predisposing factors for FD and IBS. Depression may also be a cause of gastric cancer. Psychological evaluation of gastroenterology patients may be necessary, but more study is needed.

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          Most cited references 13

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          Depression and cancer: mechanisms and disease progression.

          Depression and cancer commonly co-occur. The prevalence of depression among cancer patients increases with disease severity and symptoms such as pain and fatigue. The literature on depression as a predictor of cancer incidence is mixed, although chronic and severe depression may be associated with elevated cancer risk. There is divided but stronger evidence that depression predicts cancer progression and mortality, although disentangling the deleterious effects of disease progression on mood complicates this research, as does the fact that some symptoms of cancer and its treatment mimic depression. There is evidence that providing psychosocial support reduces depression, anxiety, and pain, and may increase survival time with cancer, although studies in this latter area are also divided. Psychophysiological mechanisms linking depression and cancer progression include dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, especially diurnal variation in cortisol and melatonin. Depression also affects components of immune function that may affect cancer surveillance. Thus, there is evidence of a bidirectional relationship between cancer and depression, offering new opportunities for therapeutic intervention.
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            Psychological stress and corticotropin-releasing hormone increase intestinal permeability in humans by a mast cell-dependent mechanism.

            Intestinal permeability and psychological stress have been implicated in the pathophysiology of IBD and IBS. Studies in animals suggest that stress increases permeability via corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)-mediated mast cell activation. Our aim was to investigate the effect of stress on intestinal permeability in humans and its underlying mechanisms.
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              Anxiety and depression comorbidities in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): a systematic review and meta-analysis.

              Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has been associated with high prevalence of psychological disorders. However, it remains unclear whether IBS and each of its subtypes (predominant diarrhea IBS-D, constipation IBS-C, mixed IBS-M) are associated with higher anxiety and depressive symptoms levels. This study aimed to determine the associations of IBS and each of its subtypes with anxiety and/or depression. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis using five electronic databases (PubMed, PsychINFO, BIOSIS, Science Direct, and Cochrane CENTRAL). We selected case-control studies comparing anxiety and depression levels of patients with IBS to healthy controls, using standardized rating scales. Outcomes were measured as random pooled standardized mean differences (SMD). Ten studies were included in our analysis (885 patients and 1,384 healthy controls). Patients with IBS had significant higher anxiety and depression levels than controls (respectively, SMD = 0.76, 95 % CI 0.47; 0.69, p < 0.01, I2 = 81.7 % and SMD = 0.80, 95 % CI 0.42; 1.19, p < 0.01, I2 = 90.7 %). This significant difference was confirmed for patients with IBS-C and -D subtypes for anxiety, and only in IBS-D patients for depression. However, other IBS subtypes had a statistical trend to be associated with both anxiety and depressive symptomatology, which suggests a lack of power due to the small number of studies included. Patients with IBS had significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression than healthy controls. Anxiety and depression symptomatology should be systematically checked and treated in IBS patients, as psychological factors are important moderators of symptom severity, symptom persistence, decisions to seek treatment, and response to treatment.

                Author and article information

                J Neurogastroenterol Motil
                J Neurogastroenterol Motil
                Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility
                Korean Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility
                April 2015
                : 21
                : 2
                : 273-282
                Department of Internal Medicine, Konkuk University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: In-Kyung Sung, MD, PhD, Department of Internal Medicine, Digestive Disease Center, Konkuk University School of Medicine, 120-1 Neungdong-ro, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul 143-729, Korea, Tel: +82-2-2030-5100, Fax: +82-2-2030-7748, E-mail: inksung@ 123456kuh.ac.kr
                © 2015 The Korean Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Original Article


                depression, dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome, stress, psychological


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