Power to the Patient

Always keep in mind that there are others out there who can relate—and that you have the strength to get through this.

Approximately 1.6 million Americans have an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)

Up to 70,000 new diagnoses of IBD happen in the United States every year

Real UC patient

There was one point I remember I broke down. I say if you have those moments, just let them happen. They help.

RYAN | Real UC Patient

Real UC patient

Your Mental and Emotional Health Are Just as Important as Your Physical Health

People living with ulcerative colitis can absolutely lead a full life. But when the disease is active, it’s understandable that, because of UC-flare-ups or complications, there can be an impact on a person’s quality of life. It can be difficult to cope with a serious and chronic illness. Some patients react to the unpredictable or severe nature of their symptoms. Those feelings can include:

Anger

Anxiety

Fear

Elevated stress

Stress Doesn’t Cause UC—but It Can Affect Symptoms

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which is a biological disease—not an emotional one. At the same time, while emotions are not a cause of the disease, at times of physical or emotional distress, patients may experience flare-ups of symptoms—like increasing abdominal pain or diarrhea.

Know more about dealing with stress >

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QUESTION FOR YOU

How long have you been diagnosed?

"I'm not diagnosed"

It’s still important to be open about symptoms you might be experiencing.

Partner with your doctor>

 

"Under a year"

Always stay positive and be proactive. Make sure you know the facts about your condition.

GET THE FACT SHEET>

"1 to 3 years"

Make the most out of every appointment with your specialist.

GET THE Doctor Discussion Guide>

"3 to 5 years"

Do you know how inflammation affects you inside the body—and impacts your symptoms?

See Inside Inflammation>

 

"Over 5 years"

Keep treatment conversations open with your specialist and have more productive visits.

Get The Doctor Discussion Guide>

 

Man holding stomach in pain

QUESTION FOR YOU

How often do you experience symptoms?

“Daily”

Schedule an appointment with your specialist and make the visit even more productive.

Get the Doctor Discussion Guide>

“Weekly”

Have an open conversation with your specialist. Make the most of your next visit.

Get the Doctor Discussion Guide>

“Monthly”

Make sure that you’re telling your doctor everything they need to know to help you.

Get the Doctor Discussion Guide>

“Rarely”

Did you know that inflammation can affect you—even if you don’t have symptoms?

SEE INSIDE INFLAMMATION>

Person typing on laptop keyboard

Know the basics of Crohn’s or UC

See an overview of facts on Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—all on one downloadable page.

son sitting at a desk viewing inflammation inside the body on a laptop

Understand your inflammation

Explore and learn how inflammation affects you with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—from inside the body.

Encountering Emotional Stressors and Facing Them

Possible Emotional Stressors

Other People’s Perception of UC
It’s hard if you feel isolated because people around you don’t understand how your condition affects you. The symptomhs of UC can often be invisible on the outside and you could be worried that others may see you differently because of your condition.

Ways You Can Face Them

Refuse to Suffer in Silence
If you're concerned that others don't understand what you're going through, try your best to talk about it. Open up and crush the stigma. Educate others that may not understand the facts and let go of the people who refuse to understand. Keep the people who really want to understand and support you close.


Having Symptoms at Work or School
Worrying about how to manage your UC symptoms when you’re not in the comfort of your own home can be hard. Especially if you aren’t getting what you need, like a flexible schedule or support from your boss. And while you may know your rights as a patient with a medical condition, sometimes there are negative impacts, like unsupportive people, that are outside your control.

Make Changes but Know the Limits
While you may be able to find ways to work around your symptoms outside of home, like mapping out bathrooms or carrying extra toilet paper, it’s important to know when you need a change if there are too many negative impacts on your physical and mental health. Talk to your doctor about your struggles outside of home to evaluate how much your UC may be affecting your lifestyle. And, if necessary, consider if you need to make changes to your career or education plan.


Being in Social Situations
It can feel easy to stay isolated and keep yourself at home. But every now and then everyone needs to get out and have fun. Thinking of your UC might hinder you from doing things like going to parties, seeing friends, or attending events.

Plan Ahead and Ask for Support
To help you feel more at ease about going out, you can do things like look up where the bathrooms are on your way and at your destination. Check out restaurants and their menus ahead of time. And, more importantly, speak openly to your family and friends about what you may need when you’re in social situations.


Impacts on Relationships
Living with UC might sometimes affect relationships you have with friends, family, or significant others. There could be points of physical, emotional, social, and financial complexities that are related to those who are closest to you. And while some people are great supporters, others may be less understanding.

Surround Yourself With Positive People
There are people out there who care about your physical and emotional health. Those are the people who will help you build a truly strong support system for your times of need. And keep in mind that it’s okay to ask for help. Many of your loved ones want to be there for you when you need it—like if you experience a flare-up.

Possible Emotional Stressors

Other People’s Perception of UC
It’s hard if you feel isolated because people around you don’t understand how your condition affects you. The symptoms of UC can often be invisible on the outside and you could be worried that others may see you differently because of your condition.


Having Symptoms at Work or School
Worrying about how to manage your UC symptoms when you’re not in the comfort of your own home can be hard. Especially if you aren’t getting what you need, like a flexible schedule or support from your boss. And while you may know your rights as a patient with a medical condition, sometimes there are negative impacts, like unsupportive people, that are outside your control.


Being in Social Situations
It can feel easy to stay isolated and keep yourself at home. But every now and then everyone needs to get out and have fun. Thinking of your UC might hinder you from doing things like going to parties, seeing friends or attending events.


Impacts on Relationships
Living with UC might sometimes affect relationships you have with friends, family or significant others. There could be points of physical, emotional, social, and financial complexities that are related to those who are closest to you. And while some people are great supporters, others may be less understanding.

Ways You Can Face Them

Refuse to Suffer in Silence
If you're concerned that others don't understand what you're going through, try your best to talk about it. Open up and crush the stigma. Educate others that may not understand the facts and let go of the people who refuse to understand. Keep the people who really want to understand and support you close.


Make Changes but Know the Limits
While you may be able to find ways to work around your symptoms outside of home, like mapping out bathrooms or carrying extra toilet paper, it’s important to know when you need a change if there are too many negative impacts on your physical and mental health. Talk to your doctor about your struggles outside of home to evaluate how much your UC may be affecting your lifestyle. And, if necessary, consider if you need to make changes to your career or education plan.


Plan Ahead and Ask for Support
To help you feel more at ease about going out, you can do things like look up where the bathrooms are on your way and at your destination. Check out restaurants and their menus ahead of time. And, more importantly, speak openly to your family and friends about what you may need when you’re in social situations.


Surround Yourself with Positive People
There are people out there who care about your physical and emotional health. Those are the people who will help you build a truly strong support system for your times of need. And keep in mind that it’s okay to ask for help. Many of your loved ones want to be there for you when you need it—like if you experience a flare-up.

Body and Mind are Inseparable.

When it comes to dealing with ulcerative colitis, the physical difficulties can influence emotional difficulties. At those times, it’s more important than ever to tap into your support network. Some people can cope individually, but here are some other people who may be able to help:

Doctor and patient talking

Doctors (physician or gastroenterologist)

Nurse smiling while holding patient chart

Care team members (nurses or medical staff)

Family smiling together while a mother holds her child

Friends and family

Group of people volunteering and giving high fives to each other

IBD organizations and communities

Mental health professional talking to a patient

Mental health professionals (like a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist)

Ready for more in-depth educational resources? See more tools and support

Hand holding restroom request card

Get a Restroom Request Card* and helpful info

Have a discreet way to ask for access to restricted restrooms if you have symptoms. And get updates, resources, and more sent to your inbox.

Person sitting at a desk viewing inflammation inside the body on a laptop

Understand your inflammation

Explore and learn how inflammation affects you with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)—from inside the body.

Person looking at map on mobile phone

Looking for a gastroenterologist?

Find a gastroenterologist—a doctor who specializes in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC)—near you.

Woman going over her doctor discussion guide with her doctor

Make the most of your appointments

Our doctor discussion guide can help you talk effectively with your doctor during your visits.

Stopwatch

Is it time make a personalized action plan?

See how much time your disease is impacting you. Answer 5 quick questions and get 3 customized, timely steps to help you and your doctor take action with your disease.

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