The Prevalence and Incidence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Depression and Bipolar Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Psychosom Med. 2022 Apr 1;84(3):313-324.doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000001046.


Viktoriya L Nikolova 1Lucy PeltonCalum D MoultonDaniele ZorzatoAnthony J CleareAllan H YoungJames M Stone


Author information

1From the Centre for Affective Disorders, Department of Psychological Medicine (Nikolova, Moulton, Cleare, Young), Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience; School of Bioscience Education, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine (Pelton), Guy's Campus; GKT School of Medical Education (Zorzato); and Department of Neuroimaging (Stone), Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, United Kingdom.


Objective: The increased prevalence and incidence of affective disorders among patients with gastrointestinal disease have been well established. However, few studies have investigated the inverse relationship. We aimed to identify all pieces of evidence of the prevalence and incidence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in people with depression and bipolar disorder.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review of studies reporting the association between affective disorders (exposure) and IBS or IBD (outcome) in adults. Evidence was evaluated for quality using Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal tools. Where suitable data were available, meta-analyses were performed.

Results: We identified 18 studies that met the selection criteria, of which 11 provided data on IBS, 5 on IBD, and 2 on both. Overall, people with depression were significantly more likely to have comorbid IBS (risk ratio = 2.42, 95% confidence interval = 1.98-2.96) and to develop new-onset IBS (risk ratio = 1.90, 95% confidence interval = 1.41-2.56) compared with people without depression. They were also more likely to have and develop IBD, and among patients with IBD, significantly increased rates of depression were observed as early as 5 years before diagnosis. Bipolar disorder was not consistently associated with risk of either condition.

Conclusions: People with depression are at an increased risk of both having and developing lower gastrointestinal disorders. These findings have important implications for how we understand, manage, and prevent this comorbidity in clinical practice. Further studies are needed to improve our understanding of the relationship between bipolar disorder and bowel disease as well as the role of psychotropic medication, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

© Copyright 2013-2024 GI Health Foundation. All rights reserved.
This site is maintained as an educational resource for US healthcare providers only. Use of this website is governed by the GIHF terms of use and privacy statement.