The goal of this study was to describe the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on ability to engage in activities and the influence on psychological distress and gastrointestinal symptoms among individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and comorbid anxiety and/or depression.
Individuals with IBS and comorbid anxiety and/or depression report increased symptoms and decreased quality of life compared with individuals with IBS alone. The current COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to further influence symptoms among individuals with IBS and comorbid anxiety and/or depression.
Individuals who met the Rome-IV IBS criteria and reported mild to severe anxiety and/or depression were included. Participants completed an online survey with questions about anxiety, depression, impact of COVID on activities and symptoms, and demographics.
Fifty-five individuals participated in the study. The COVID-19 pandemic most commonly influenced their ability to spend time with friends and family, shop for certain types of food, and access health care. Participants also reported increased stress (92%), anxiety (81%), and depressive symptoms (67%). Finally, around half the sample reported increases in abdominal pain (48%), diarrhea (45%), or constipation (44%).
The COVID-19 pandemic is related to self-reported increases in psychological distress and gastrointestinal symptoms among individuals with IBS and comorbid anxiety and/or depression. Additional research is needed to intervene on these symptoms.