Pediatric IBD Patients Face Multiple Psych Issues

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Young people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) used medications to treat anxiety and depression at a much higher rate than the general pediatric population, a researcher said here.

In a small study, 28.5% of pediatric patients with IBD had taken or were taking antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs to treat anxiety, depression, or another psychiatric disorder, which is 10 times the rate of the general pediatric population, reported Natalie Conboy, an undergraduate student at Auburn University in Alabama.

But more than three-quarters of patients had no record of receiving mental health services, she said at a presentation at the Advances in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (AIBD) meeting.

Conboy noted that about a quarter of patients with IBD are diagnosed prior to age 20, and that the disease can be more aggressive in young people, often requiring hospitalization, surgery, nutritional supplements, and use of steroids.

Not only that, but IBD can lead to growth retardation, weight changes, and stress, “leading to a lot of psychological distress,” Conboy said.

She noted that research has found that pediatric patients suffer from higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidality versus other children. But Conboy added that studies in adults found that while 43% of patients have high anxiety or depressive symptoms, less than half either take medication or receive mental health counseling.

“Overall, these disorders are undertreated,” Conboy said. “This … leads to medication non-compliance, increased cost, and worse outcomes.”

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