Mental Health Awareness & Digestive Diseases

20th May 2020

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 falls at a challenging time for many across the globe. The team at Guts UK recognise the impact that digestive diseases can have on your mental health, and this week – we want to share useful resources, information and support that is available to you.

The Gut-Brain Connection

Early research has shown that there is a much stronger connection between the gut and the brain than we first thought.

In addition to more recent research that suggests the earliest changes in Parkinson’s disease could originate from bacteria in the gut, there is a much more obvious connection between mental health and digestive conditions/symptoms.

Digestive symptoms and conditions can have a real impact upon every-day life, that our community sometimes find others can underestimate. Managing pain, being unable to predict symptoms from day-to-day and anxiety surrounding accessing near-by toilet facilities are just a few of the worries for our community.

We’ve gathered a list of suggestions that our community use to manage and support their mental health. These are personal suggestions and may not work for everyone, but we hope at least one sparks hope within.

Suggestions for patients written by patients:

  • Speak to your doctor or consultant and let them know you are struggling. They may be able to refer you to a mental health worker.
  • It’s okay to cry and don’t hide it. You are going through a very rough period in your life. Let your emotions out and don’t feel weak because of it.
  • Write down how you feel as sometimes writing it down can help you understand how you feel a little better.
  • You are not on your own; there are others in the same position, so try and find them. Contact the team at Guts UK or look at social media forums (for example Facebook support groups). People there are going through similar challenges – we understand.
  • Recovering after a flare up of a digestive condition can be time-consuming and frustrating. Look out for the small things that can help your recovery during that time, such as distractions or small achievements (for example, doing a short online course, learning to paint, writing a diary, documenting your day with photographs, getting involved in a campaign or project you could do from home or discovering new recipes suitable for your condition).
  • As hard as it may be, don’t let it beat you, you are stronger than you know and wiser than you feel.
  • When you are struggling, just take one day at a time. Don’t look too far ahead or back, just focus on today. However, remember that planning ahead with small goals can give you things to look forward too.
  • Always remember there is professional advice and support available to you. Ask for help on your own terms.

> Click here for useful resources

  • Self-Help Leaflets: Cumbria Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust have created a variety of ‘Self-Help Leaflets’, including anxiety, eating disorders, health anxiety and depression and low mood. Click here for more information.
  • Mental wellbeing while at home: Click here for current NHS advice regarding staying at home during Covid-19 and taking care of both your mind and body.
  • Coronavirus anxiety: Click here for counsellors’ advice on how to cope if you’re feeling anxious about the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Accessing services: Many areas have self-referral services to IAPT (Improving Access to Psychology Services). Other areas may require a GP to refer to the service. You can find your local services here.
  • Samaritans: If you need to talk to somebody now, call 166 123 or visit the Samaritans website.

About us:

Guts UK’s vision is of a world where digestive diseases are better understood, better treated and everyone who lives with one gets the support they need.

Our information team are here to help those with digestive symptoms and conditions. We hear from our community everyday. Many are confused about their symptoms, feeling lost, frustrated and struggling to receive a diagnosis. We are passionate about providing expert, evidence-based information to patients. Together we can reach and help more people. Support our work by donating today.

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