Objectives: To evaluate state and trait form of anxiety and current depression in patients affected by gastrointestinal diseases.
Methods: We studied 1641 outpatients with gastrointestinal disorders, consecutively referred to our Internal Medicine outpatients from 1997 to 2005. State and trait anxiety were assessed by the State and Trait Anxiety Inventory. Current depression was assessed by the Zung self-rating depression scale.
Results: Among patients, 1379 (84.1%) showed state anxiety, 1098 (67%) showed trait anxiety and 442 (27%) showed current depression. The number of gastrointestinal diseases was directly correlated to state anxiety (p < 0.001) and trait anxiety (p = 0.04). Females showed higher levels of anxiety and depression than males (p < 0.001). State anxiety was related to food allergies (p < 0.001), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) (p = 0.001), Hp infection (p = 0.01) and ulcerative colitis in active phase (p = 0.03). Trait anxiety was related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (p < 0.001), Helicobacter pylori (Hp) infection (p = 0.001), food allergies (p = 0.001) and SIBO (p = 0.001). Current depression was related to IBS (p < 0.001) and coeliac disease (p = 0.01), SIBO (p = 0.02). A predicted probability of 0.77 ± 0.16 to have state anxiety, of 0.66 ± 0.12 to have trait anxiety and of 0.39 ± 0.14 to have depression was found in these patients.
Conclusions: Most of the patients who seek medical consultation for gastrointestinal problems show an associated affective disorder. These patients should be managed by a team including gastroenterologists, psychologists and/or psychiatrists, or by a gastroenterologist having expertise in the treatment of psychological disorders.