Background and aims: Depression is a major health issue in the United States and is highly comorbid with gastrointestinal conditions. We collected data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a representative sample of the US population, to study the relationship between depression and bowel habits.
Methods: Using data from the NHANES (2009-2010), we identified 495 depressed and 4709 non-depressed adults who filled out the Bowel Health Questionnaire. Depression was defined according to a validated questionnaire. We used multivariable analysis, controlling for clinical and demographic variables, to evaluate the relationship between mood and bowel habits.
Results: In our weighed sample, 24.6% of depressed individuals and 12.6% of non-depressed individuals reported disordered bowel habits. Chronic diarrhea was significantly more prevalent in depressed individuals (15.53%; 95% CI, 11.34%-20.90%) than non-depressed individuals (6.05%; 95% CI, 5.24%-6.98%; P = .0001). Chronic constipation was also more common in depressed individuals (9.10%; 95% CI, 7.02%-11.69%) than non-depressed individuals (6.55%; 95% CI, 5.55%-7.70% CI; P = .003). Mean depression scores in patients with chronic diarrhea (4.9 ± 5.8) and with chronic constipation (4.4 ± 4.93) were significantly higher than mean depression scores for individuals with normal bowel habits (3.2 ± 4.6) (P < .001). Moderate and severe depression were significantly associated with chronic diarrhea but not chronic constipation. Only mild depression was significantly associated with chronic constipation.
Conclusions: In an analysis of the NHANES database, we found a higher proportion of depressed individuals to have chronic diarrhea and constipation than non-depressed individuals; chronic diarrhea was more strongly associated with depression. Our findings provide support for the relationship between mood and specific bowel habits, accounting for multiple co-variables in a large sample of the general US population.
Keywords: GI; IBD; IBS; Irritable Bowel Syndrome; Psychology.
Copyright © 2019 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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