Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder observed in patients who visit general practitioners for GI-related complaints. A high prevalence of psychiatric comorbidities, particularly anxiety and depressive disorders, has been reported in patients with IBS. However, a clear temporal relationship between IBS and psychiatric disorders has not been well established.
We explored the relationship between IBS and the subsequent development of psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and sleep disorder.
We selected patients who were diagnosed with IBS caused by gastroenteritis, according to the data in the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. A comparison cohort was formed of patients without IBS who were matched according to age and sex. The incidence rate and the hazard ratios (HRs) of subsequent new-onset psychiatric disorders were calculated for both cohorts, based on psychiatrist diagnoses.
The IBS cohort consisted of 4689 patients, and the comparison cohort comprised 18756 matched control patients without IBS. The risks of depressive disorder (HR = 2.71, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.30–3.19), anxiety disorder (HR = 2.89, 95% CI = 2.42–3.46), sleep disorder (HR = 2.47, 95% CI = 2.02–3.02), and bipolar disorder (HR = 2.44, 95% CI = 1.34–4.46) were higher in the IBS cohort than in the comparison cohort. In addition, the incidence of newly diagnosed depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and sleep disorder remained significantly increased in all of the stratified follow-up durations (0–1, 1–5, ≥5 y).
IBS may increase the risk of subsequent depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, sleep disorder, and bipolar disorder. The risk ratios are highest for these disorders within 1 year of IBS diagnosis, but the risk remains statistically significant for more than 5 years. Clinicians should pay particular attention to psychiatric comorbidities in IBS patients.