Does anyone else's IBS cause severe anxiety and a fear of going out?

Edited , 8 users are following.

Hi,

I've had IBS for years (I'm 22), but since a 6-hour car journey just over a year ago where I had bad IBS-D the whole time, it's caused me severe anxiety. Every service station we passed, we had to stop at, and on many occasions I thought I wouldn't make it to the next one. I've never been so uncomfortable in my life and I felt trapped, anxious and panic-y in the car for the whole journey.

Ever since I've developed severe anxiety (I've always been slightly anxious/nervous but this is way worse) to the point where I went months without even leaving the house, cancelled a holiday last minute because I couldn't face the journey to the airport or being trapped on the plane, and have been to A&E before with panic attacks.

Now I can manage short car journeys (about 10/15 minutes) but anything longer just causes me to freak out because I worry that my IBS will kick off whilst I'm stuck in the car. I have to know where the bathroom is everywhere I go. For the last year I've mainly been stuck indoors, too terrified to go anywhere and having to take medication for my anxiety.

The worst thing is that my anxiety makes my IBS worse, which then makes my anxiety worse, and it's just a vicious cycle.

I really don't know what to do. I've tried CBT (it didn't help). I take Imodium when I do have to go out but that doesn't always cure the upset stomach that I get. I've tried changing my diet but it hasn't helped as I think my IBS is mainly caused by anxiety and stress (which, ironically, it caused in the first place).

I don't know how to break the cycle and I don't know how to start living my life again without constant fear of having an 'accident'. Please help!

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  • Posted

    As you have said, you need to work on your anxiety. I would try CBT again, also relaxation or meditation techniques, yoga, hypnotherapy.

    I also take an "IBS kit" with me where ever I go. It has painkillers, anti spasmodics, Imodium. Also, I find that if I have ibs-d, wearing a sanitary towel makes me feel a bit better/safer as it were.

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    • Posted

      My anxiety is slightly better than it was thanks to mindfulness and diet changes (and CBD oil), but I still can't control the anxiety I get when I have to go out.

      I also take loads of tablets with me everywhere (painkillers, valium, anti spasmodics, imodium) which gives me a sense of security, but when I had CBT they were more interested in trying to get me to go out without my medication because they saw it as a "safety behaviour" (which apparently reinforces the idea that something bad is going to happen because you're preparing for it). So rather than trying to help me go out in the first place, they were trying to get me to stop taking my tablets with me everywhere, which I can't and won't do.

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    • Posted

      Sometimes, other people's techniques work for them but not for you. Your best option is to do the things that work for you and if taking your medication with you when you are going out, helps you, them continue to do so. Telling you not to take your medication with you is a bad idea because it takes away the safety valve you need. Without that safety valve, you will feel more anxiety rather than less and more anxiety will increase your chance of having a flare up. There is nothing wrong with a safety valve!

      I don't take my IBS medication when going out because I know I won't need it, but I always have pain medication in the house. I always take medication on holiday with me because it is a long distance and U once had an IBS D attack on holiday and I didn't have Imodium to stop it so I had to get it from a local chemist.

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  • Posted

    Hi Charlotte.Have you tried any anti depression tablets like Citrolopram.I am using them myself because i was getting loads of ibs-d and ibs-c.Have you looked at the Ibs network because it does have some idea in it.i would say that since taking Citrolopram 20mgs my ibs has slowed down allot .This medication is not a miracle cure because ibs does not have a cure ,but you said yourself that you get anxious ,therefore taking the anxious away may help you .Ask your doctor too prescribe this medication.you will get a few side effects whilst it trying too work inyour brain and body.

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    • Posted

      Hi, I was prescribed Setraline but saw that a common side effect was tummy upset so didn't even risk trying it! I've taken a natural alternative to prescription meds, which has helped the anxiety a bit, but I still can't get the anxiety under control when I have to go out.

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  • Posted

    Hi Charlotte, only 1 word ewear by - LAVENDER! Just relax and your bowel will. I suffer terrible anxiety, i know how you feel. You could try a relaxation technique, yoga is great, meditation, mindfulness or something similar. If i feel really panicked i try a technique a counsellor altered me to. I count from a high number back by 7 each time! It works, when i last saw my last counsellor i had a massive flashback and just counted, it calmed me down. I hope it works for you.

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  • Posted

    yes yes yes!! ive avoided doing so many things because i have the same issue. going to the cinema and going back to college for example. even when we have a meeting at work i panic thinking that ill just need the toilet the whole time. i always make sure i know where the toilets are anywhere i go its become like an obsession. i use to be much worse but i know mostly which food abd drinki can and cant have so my ibs is much more manageable now. i am a great believer of mind over matter and i find that when i think about needing the toilet in these instances ill end up needing to go. i am not as bad as i use to be but i still do avoid doing things for fear of needing to poop. i went to my gp about it and i was prescribed anti anxiety tablets to help with the fear/anxiety of needing to go during meetings etc. i wonder if its become a bit of an obsession for you like it is for me? you do sound as if you have it worse than myself. have you tried herbal stress/anxiety relief? might be worth a try. i also make sure i poop before travelling/meetings/cinema etc so then i can think to myself 'ive already pooped i cant be needing again. its all in my head'. i know its easier said than done but take it from me mind over matter it does work!

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    • Posted

      footnote: i do yoga weekly and its wonderful. i use to be so anxious before college id poop 5 times before leaving the house. then poop again when i got to college. i really had to convince myself this wasnt normal and i wanted all that to stop so i dont think about it-needing the toilet as often or 'what if i need to go' wnd it has helped. healthy mind=healthy body.

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    • Posted

      Yes I'm the same - as soon as I know I can't go (because I'm in the car or in a meeting or something), I instantly need to! I get stomach cramps and feel sick too. Definitely all in my head and become a bit of an obsession.

      I've tried a natural remedy for anxiety and it's helped the day-to-day anxiety I get but it doesn't really help when I have to go out and I'm terrified of needing the bathroom.

      Only issue with me is, I can go to the bathroom, but still need to go again a few minutes later anyway (if my IBS is really bad). So going to the loo before I go anywhere doesn't give me much sense of security.

      I have to travel to a hospital 30 minutes away in a few weeks, and it's not something I can avoid, and I'm freaking out already even though it's weeks away.

      Thanks for your advice 😃

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    • Posted

      You need coping strategies to cope with your anxiety. Sorry not being rude not easy but you need to find out how to cope with it. I use something called grounding techniques which keep me calm. I wish you luck getting this sorted. It's a tough one but you can sort it i think. I am no doctor so please see someone who is.

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  • Posted

    Try gut related hypnotherapy or relaxation therapy instead; It looks like CBT didn't suit you and since it didn't work the first time round, , it may make you more anxious if you try it again because you will be stressing about whether or not it will work.

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