Prevalence of Depression and Anxiety in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Sarfaroj Khan 


April 06, 2021


  • Depression and anxiety are more common in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) than those of the same age and sex who are unaffected.

  • Healthcare utilisation and prescribing rates of psychotropic medications are also higher in patients with IBD.

  • Coexisting mental health conditions are associated with additional healthcare use and time off work in patients with IBD.      

Why this matters

  • Findings suggest that evidence-based mental health interventions, including psychological treatments, may be of particular value to support people with IBD.

Study design

  • This study included 19,011 patients with IBD (Crohn’s disease [CD], n=7557; ulcerative colitis [UC]; n=11,454) and 76,044 matched control participants using UK population-based primary care database.

  • Prevalences of anxiety, depressive episodes and depressive disorder were assessed between 2016 and 2018.

  • Funding: Pfizer.

Key results

  • Mental health conditions were more prevalent in patients with CD vs control participants:

    • depressive episodes (5.7% vs 4.1%; P<.001);

    • depressive disorder (17.5% vs 12.9%; P<.001); and

    • anxiety episodes (3.5% vs 3.0%; P=.02).

  • Similarly, the prevalence was higher in patients with UC vs control participants:

    • depressive episodes (4.4% vs 3.6%); and

    • depressive disorder (14.2% vs 12.4%; P<.001 for both).

  • Anxiety episodes were more prevalent in patients with UC, but the difference was not statistically significant (3.0% vs 2.7%; P=.07).

  • Healthcare utilisation rates were higher in people with IBD vs control group (incidence rate ratio; 95% CI):

    • primary care visits (1.47; 1.43-1.51);

    • emergency secondary care visits (1.87; 1.79-1.95);

    • fitness for work certificates (1.53; 1.44-1.62);

    • antidepressant use (1.22; 1.13-1.32); and

    • anxiolytic use (1.20; 1.01-1.41).


  • Study could not determine any causal associations.


Irving P, Barrett K, Nijher M, de Lusignan S. Prevalence of depression and anxiety in people with inflammatory bowel disease and associated healthcare use: population-based cohort study. Evid Based Ment Health. 2021 Mar 30 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1136/ebmental-2020-300223. PMID: 33785498.  View full text 

This clinical summary originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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