Double trouble: symptoms and stress.

While stress is not a root cause of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), it can worsen symptoms when they’re active. And that’s when the other shoe drops: worsening symptoms can stress you out. To help break the symptom-stress-symptom cycle, take a deep breath in, and read on.

On this page, you’ll find info about:

The many faces of stress. And how to face them.

Not only can a chronic condition be difficult, but there may be other things in life that cause stress. Working with your doctor or a mental health professional to tackle stress from symptoms is certainly helpful, but you should also identify additional sources of stress and tactics to help address them. You may experience other stressors that could take a toll on your emotional well-being. Here’s how you can face them head on.

People’s perceptions

It can feel like people around you don’t understand your condition and how it affects you.

Speak up!

Take the time to educate others who may not fully get what you’re going through and let go of the people who refuse to understand. Make sure to keep those who support you close.

Being outside your comfort zone

Not being in the comfort of your own home can create worry about Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis (UC) symptoms, especially when you don’t have a flexible schedule, or you don’t have easy access to a bathroom.

Identify your options

When you’re outside the home, you may find ways to work around your symptoms, like knowing where the bathrooms are or bringing extra toilet paper. Remember, you can use the Restroom Access Card to request access to restricted bathrooms when others aren’t available.


Everyone needs to get out of the house and have some fun every once in a while. Crohn’s or UC symptoms can create an obstacle to things like hanging out with friends, going to a party, or attending an event.

Plan ahead (and ask for support)

Talk to your family and friends about things you may need (or things they need to know) while you’re out and about so you can live your life instead of feeling limited.

Being supported

Crohn’s or UC can impact your relationships—from friends and family to your coworkers. While some people may be great supporters and stand by your side, not everyone will know how to support you.

Surround yourself with understanding people

For example, look to the people who've already got your back–they're the ones who can help you build a strong support system for your times of need. Make sure to ask them for help if you need it. That’s what they’re here for.

When the going gets tough...

...there are some pretty tough people you can lean on. In fact, approximately 3.1 million Americans have IBD—many have likely gone through experiences similar to yours. You can find them in support groups and resources to help you get through those tough emotional times.

Next page:

Stress isn’t the only thing that can have an impact. Learn about Nutrition & Exercise with IBD


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