Depression in Women With Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Multifaceted Approach for a Multidimensional Problem

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2023 Dec 5;29(12):1957-1970. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izac245.


Shoma Bommena 1Aaron Goldberg 2Mona Amini 3Yasmin Alishahi 2


Author information

1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, Banner University Medical Center-Phoenix, AZ, USA.

2Division of Gastroenterology, University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, Phoenix VA Health Care System, AZ, USA.

3Psychiatry and Mental Health, Phoenix VA Health Care System, Phoenix, AZ, USA.


The prevalence of depression is higher in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) than in the general population. Women are more significantly affected by depression among those with IBD and in the general population. This review presents evidence on sex-based differences in depression pathogenesis and the effect of depression on various factors associated with IBD that affect women's lives, including sexual dysfunction, body image dissatisfaction, fertility, and overall quality of life. We also discuss sex-specific effects on IBD treatment, disease activity, and health care costs. Interestingly, women with IBD tend to seek and are more receptive to depression-related information. Given the underdiagnosis and undertreated nature of depression in individuals with IBD, effective screening and an optimal integrative treatment approach with relevant sex-specific needs are discussed. Evidence regarding the efficacy of psychotherapy, antidepressant pharmacotherapy, and IBD-specific therapy for depression is discussed. This review summarizes evidence of the effect of depression on both personal and professional aspects of the daily lives of women with IBD, which extends beyond negative moods. It applies this information to screening and integrative treatment, resulting in a holistic approach to this multidimensional problem. We also discuss how depression affects males with IBD differently from females. Finally, we discuss the need for gender-based studies on depression in individuals with IBD.

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