November 27, 2019
2 min read

Mental health diagnoses common in IBD, but may be lessening in veterans

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Prevalence of mental health diagnoses like anxiety and depression among veteran patients with IBD have increased since 2000, but the incidence has been cut nearly in half, according to study results.

Jason K. Hou, MD, MS, of the gastroenterology division at Baylor College of Medicine, and colleagues wrote that while the connection between IBD and mental health is well known, estimates of trends in incidence and prevalence have not been fully explored.

“The aim of this study was to identify temporal trends in incidence and prevalence of these mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and PTSD in this population of veteran patients with IBD,” they wrote. “Identifying these comorbid mental health problems within this patient population would improve health care practices by helping providers streamline appropriate treatment options and address gastrointestinal concerns and mental health difficulties simultaneously.”

Researchers analyzed data from the Veterans Health Administration comprising 60,086 patients (93.9% men) with IBD. They also determined the presence of anxiety, depression and PTSD among the patients between the years 2000 and 2015. They excluded patients diagnosed with one of the conditions before their first VA visit for IBD.

Hou and colleagues found that prevalence of anxiety, depression and/or PTSD increased from 10.8 per 100 patients with IBD in 2001 to 38 per 100 patents with IBD in 2015. Overall, 19,595 patients (32.6%) received a diagnosis of anxiety, depression or PTSD during the study period.

During the study period, annual incidence of these mental health diagnoses decreased from 6.1 per 100 patients with IBD in 2001 to 3.6 per 100 patients with IBD in 2015. Incidence of depression had the greatest decrease, going from 4.8 per 100 in 2001 to 2.8 per 100 in 2015.

Hou and colleagues wrote their findings show that there is still a clear mental health burden among veterans with IBD and called for more research to help understand the clinical impact of this link, as well as the reasons for the decrease in incidence.

“Future research is warranted to understand the role IBD plays in contributing to psychiatric distress and vice versa, as well as to identify potential etiologic factors associated with mental health problems in this population,” they wrote. “Improving our understanding of these factors would then facilitate the development of more targeted pharmacological and behavioral treatments that could effectively address comorbid mental health difficulties among patients with IBD.” – by Alex Young

Disclosures: Hou reports serving as a speaker for AbbVie and Janssen, and as a consultant for AbbVie, Daichii Sankyo, Janssen and Pfizer. He also reports receiving research funding from AbbVie, Celgene, Eli-Lilly, Janssen, Pfizer and Redhill Biopharma. Please see the full study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.