Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a medical condition that affects the large intestine and causes severe abdominal cramping, bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea if left untreated. According to international epidemiology research, women are 67% more likely to suffer from IBS than males. IBS can significantly reduce the quality of life of patients by inducing anxiety, depression, and even thoughts of suicide. Some physicians recommend anxiety medications such as Valium or the generic version, diazepam to control anxiety-induced IBS.
Diagnosis & Causes
Depending on your personal clinical profile, IBS can be diagnosed by a doctor through reviewing past medical history and conducting physical exams to better assess the condition. Physicians follow Rome III Criteria for Functional GI Disorders to help determine if a patient has IBS or other digestion conditions to recommend specific treatment options. According to this diagnostic criteria, patients may have IBS if they: experience it at least 3 days per month within a 12 week period of continuous or recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort with at least 2 of the following symptoms: relief with defecation, altered stool frequency, altered stool form, and or onset of symptoms more than 6 months before diagnosis. If a patient has the indicated symptoms for IBS, a doctor may administer blood tests, stool tests, and a colonoscopy to examine overall health and to screen for other potential diseases.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown, however, medical experts suggest that the disorder may be caused by an array of triggers like inflammation, infections, and diet. When the body moves food through the digestive system too fast, it may cause IBS with diarrhea, while moving food too slow may cause IBS with constipation. Other medical experts suggest that IBS may be caused by oversensitive nerve signals in the brain that triggers abdominal pain and strong urges to go to the bathroom right after a meal. When it comes to diet, certain foods like alcohol, fizzy drinks, chocolate, caffeine, processed snacks and fatty or fried food may trigger IBS symptoms in patients.
Correlation Between Anxiety and IBS
If you make doctor recommended diet and lifestyle changes, but are still experiencing painful abdominal discomfort due to IBS, prescription medications like diazepam can help alleviate symptoms by reducing general anxiety and stress. According to the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry, there is a significant correlation between IBS and psychiatric disorders anxiety, panic disorder, and general stress that can cause the gastrointestinal (GI) system to induce and worsen long-term, debilitating abdominal discomfort in patients. When the body experiences stress and anxiety, the GI tract reacts to subtle or drastic changes to diet, hormonal changes, and physical activity. Patients who experience short term or chronic stress are at much greater risk for developing asthma, high blood pressure, obesity, and IBS. Stress can be triggered by an array events such as an infection and surgery, but can also be triggered by psychological effects such as losing a job, divorce, or a traumatic experience.
To reduce the body’s GI system reaction anxiety and stress that can manifest into symptoms like abdominal cramping, bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea, patients can take anxiety medications like diazepam that can help alleviate IBS discomfort. Also known as Valium, prescription diazepam is an oral medication that works by activating the GABA (A) inhibitory channel neurotransmitters in the brain to decrease abnormal neurological activity that can cause anxiety, seizures, and muscle spasms. Diazepam helps IBS by regulating the digestive system to control abnormal function that can lead to diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain. The most common side effects patients experience while taking diazepam include muscle weakness, dizziness, drowsiness and slurred speech.
While IBS may be treated with other medications to reduce diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and severe abdominal pain, the newfound correlation between IBS and anxiety provides a new approach to helping patients target the condition from a neurological approach. Diazepam, along with recommended diet and lifestyle changes may help patients better manage IBS symptoms or other digestive disorders and improve quality of life.