Skip to main content

Psychological health & IBD

Use our wellbeing checklist to start a conversation with your doctor.

Research shows a significant association between symptoms of depression and/or anxiety and flare ups in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)*. This is because the brain and gut are in constant conversation through a network of neural, hormonal and immunological messages and if you are living with IBD, these lines of communication are disturbed.

A survey of people living with IBD in Australia found that whilst half of those who responded had signs of mental distress, only 16% had ever been directly asked about their psychological health by their doctor**.

For Luke, managing his wellbeing is a constant priority after being diagnosed with IBD at 14.

How do I start a conversation?

It can be overwhelming and a bit stressful to start a conversation with your doctor about how you’re feeling – but it is important to know you are not a burden when you want to talk about how you are feeling.

For Daniel, knowing he can talk about what’s on his mind with his doctor helps

It is normal to feel a bit down or anxious about your IBD and your healthcare professional can provide a safe space for you to share how you are feeling and provide support when you need it.
Simply filling out this wellbeing checklist can be a good starting point. Taking it along to your next appointment can help start a conversation.

For Catherine, being kind to herself and being open with her doctor is key to helping her feel in control of her IBD

Where can I find further support?

There are a number of places you can visit for support, advice or just a friendly ear.

For 24/7 counselling or crisis support, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Beyond Blue Support Service on 1300 22 46 36.

You can maintain a healthy mind and a healthy body by working with your healthcare professional hand in hand.

So start a conversation today.

This information has been developed in partnership with Janssen Australia and New Zealand. It is provided for education and information purposes only and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional.


* Mikocka-Walus, A. et al. Clinical Gastroenterology and Heptaology, Volume 14, Issue 6, 829-835.e1
** Crohn’s and Colitis Australia. My IBD Experience – Research Report 2018

The latest news and Research


Top 5 wellbeing tips with Flic

Posted: September 16 2020

Tip 1 Having IBD means that wellbeing needs to be your first priority. You not only deserve great wellbeing anyway because you are a human (not just a set of symptoms), but your body will not tolerate anything less. Tip 2 Breathing techniques can be game changers when used proactively and reactively for IBD. Something […]

Read more


The psychosocial burden of inflammatory bowel disease in adolescents and young adults

This study examined the psychosocial burden of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in young people aged 15‐25 years attending a tertiary specialist health centre for adolescents and young adults in Brisbane.

Methods Young people with IBD provided demographic information and psychosocial data via a cross‐sectional self‐report survey. Psychosocial data included the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K‐10), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS‐10), Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire (Brief IPQ), World Health Organisation Wellbeing Index (WHO‐5), Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL), Short Quality of Life Questionnaire for IBD (SIBDQ), […]

Read more


Immune cells sculpt circuits in the brain

Brain immune cells, called microglia, protect the brain from infection and inflammation. It turns out that they also sculpt circuits in the developing brain in response to sensory cues.

Immune cells play an unexpected role in fine-tuning the brain’s neural circuits, according to research published in September, 2020 in Neuron. The immune cells that reside there, known as microglia, not only protect the brain from infection and inflammation, they also help physically sculpt circuits in the developing brain. The new work demonstrates that microglia also […]

Read more


The best strength training workout is surprisingly easy

Posted: September 14 2020

As a fitness columnist, I get lots of questions about the best way to work out. Many of these queries are about strength training: How many workouts per week are necessary? Do I need to lift weights, or are body weight exercises like pushups and lunges enough? Is it better to do a few repetitions […]

Read more


Lack of treatment compromising NZ patients

Posted: September 10 2020

Senior Clinical Nurse specialists caring for some of New Zealand’s sickest bowel disease patients say the Government has turned its back on their patients by refusing to fund routine, mainstream treatments that have been in use around the world for the past several years. They say that in denying treatment for these severely ill patients […]

Read more


CCA IBD PhD Scholarship

Posted: September 10 2020

This scholarship makes a provision of $25,000 per annum for up to (3) years full-time supporting CCA’s strategic priority of building inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) research capacity in Australia whilst we search for a cause or cure for IBD. The award is designed for candidates at an early stage in their careers, for example (but […]

Read more