Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility 2017; 23(3): 349-362
The Increased Level of Depression and Anxiety in Irritable Bowel Syndrome Patients Compared with Healthy Controls: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Changhyun Lee1, Eunyoung Doo1, Ji Min Choi1, Seung-ho Jang2, Han-Seung Ryu3, Ju Yup Lee4, Jung Hwan Oh5, Jung Ho Park6, Yong Sung Kim7,*; Brain-Gut Axis Research Group of Korean Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility
1Department of Internal Medicine and Healthcare Research Institute, Healthcare System Gangnam Center, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea, 2Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Wonkwang University, Iksan, Jeollabuk-do, Korea, 3Department of Gastroenterology and Digestive Disease Research Institute, Wonkwang University School of Medicine, Iksan, Jeollabuk-do, Korea, 4Department of Internal Medicine, Keimyung University School of Medicine, Daegu, Korea, 5Division of Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea, 6Department of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea, 7Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Wonkwang University Sanbon Hospital, Gunpo, Gyeonggi-do, Korea
Correspondence to: Yong Sung Kim, MD, PhD, Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Wonkwang University Sanbon Hospital, 327 Sanbon-ro, Gunpo, Gyeonggi-do 15865, Korea, Tel: +82-31-390-2973, Fax: +82-31-390-2244, E-mail:
Received: December 26, 2016; Revised: June 8, 2017; Accepted: June 10, 2017; Published online: July 1, 2017.
© The Korean Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility. All rights reserved.

cc This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients commonly experience psychiatric disorders, such as depression and anxiety. This meta-analysis sought to compare depression and anxiety levels between IBS patients and healthy controls.


We searched major electronic databases (PubMed, EMBASE, MEDLINE, and Cochrane library) to find comparative studies on IBS patients and healthy controls. The primary outcome was a standardized mean difference (SMD) of anxiety and depression levels; sub-group analyses were conducted according to IBS-subtypes.


In total, 2293 IBS patients and 4951 healthy controls from 27 studies were included. In random effect analysis, depression and anxiety levels were significantly higher in IBS patients (pooled SMD = 0.76; 95% CI, 0.62–0.90; P < 0.001; I2 = 77.2% and pooled SMD = 0.84; 95% CI, 0.67–1.01; P < 0.001; I2 = 85.6%, respectively). Both analyses’ funnel plots showed symmetry. In meta-regression analysis, heterogeneity was due to the studied region and questionnaire type for both depression and anxiety. In sub-group analyses of IBS-subtype, the pooled SMDs of depression and anxiety levels (IBS with predominant constipation: 0.83 and 0.81, IBS with predominant diarrhea: 0.73 and 0.65, and IBS with mixed bowel habits: 0.62 and 0.75; P < 0.001, respectively) were significantly higher in all IBS-subtypes.


The present meta-analysis showed depression and anxiety levels to be higher in IBS patients than in healthy controls, regardless of IBS-subtype. However, the gender effect on psychological factors among IBS patients could not be determined and should be evaluated in prospective studies.

Keywords: Anxiety, Depression, Irritable bowel syndrome, Meta-analysis

This Article



Aims and Scope