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  • Stress mainly affects the course of the disease by exacerbating primary symptoms and suggests a stress-symptom association with the disorders.
  • In general, patients exposed to major stressful events had a 20% greater risk of active disease (exacerbation) than those who were not exposed, and stressful event appeared to precede an increase in disease activity.
  • Stress affects gastrointestinal motility (speed by which food/waste is processed) and it influences the endocrine and immune system which are mediators of the inflammatory process.
  • The disease activity in IBDs might be affected by stress-related factors (vasoactive intestinal protein, tumor necrosis factor). Elevated stress levels or life events increased the relapse risk in patients with ulcerative colitis. Stress can affect the expression of symptoms.
  • Symptoms of stress can be any of those often associated with anxiety or depression

Tips for reducing stress

  • Ensure that you engage in activities that allow you to relax. For example making time to meditate, go for a walk, engage in slow monitored breathing and/or progressive muscle relaxation, etc.
  • Stop 'wishing' the situation will change - act in a proactive way
  • Stop criticizing what happens as a consequence of gut related problems and concentrate on 'how' to solve the problems
  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Identify a set of simple activities you can do that will reinforce positive feelings. Set time aside for yourself to read a book, magazine, newspaper, etc.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself. Once a goal is achieved, develop a new one
  • Talk to someone when you need advice or help


If you are interested in other gastrointestinal-focused information and intervention websites developed and hosted at
Swinburne University of Technology,
please go to:

IBSclinic.org.au for individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Gastroparesisclinic.org for individuals with Gastroparesis


This website and its content is not intended or recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions.

© 2014 Swinburne University of Technology | CRICOS number 00111D