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Study Suggests Link Between Crohn's Disease and PTSD

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Crohn's disease may cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a new study contends.

The study included nearly 600 Swiss adults with Crohn's disease, an incurable inflammatory bowel disorder that causes severe pain and diarrhea.

The study participants underwent PTSD assessment at the start of the study and 19 percent of them were found to have the disorder. All the participants were monitored for 18 months. The researchers found that Crohn's patients with PTSD were more than 13 times likelier to experience worsening symptoms than those without PTSD.

The study appears Dec. 2 in the online edition of Frontline Gastroenterology.

Crohn's can't be cured but PTSD can, and doctors treating Crohn's patients need to be alert for PTSD and refer patients for appropriate therapy, said the researchers, led by Roland von Kaenel, a professor with Bern University Hospital, in Switzerland.

PTSD is typically triggered by violence, natural disasters and emergency situations. But a growing body of research shows that serious illness, along with diagnostic and treatment procedures, may trigger the psychological condition.

Over a long period of time, PTSD can permanently change the body's hormonal and immune responses, making a person more prone to serious health problems, the researchers said.

"In most cases, patients avoid talking about cures which remind them of having the disease," the researchers wrote in a news release from the journal's publisher. "Such behavior may unwillingly be encouraged by the usual shortness of consultation time and unfamiliarity of [gut specialists] in dealing with the psychological needs of their patients."

More information

The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America has more about Crohn's disease.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: BMJ journals, news release, Dec. 1, 2010

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