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Depression linked to acid reflux troubles

Those with stomach complaints are three times more likely to have emotional problems. So says a study of 2,011 respondents between April and May last year by the Hong Kong Mood Disorders Centre and the Institute of Digestive Disease of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

It found 14 percent of them had stomach acid reflux, suggesting that about 730,000 people in the SAR have the problem.

About 6 percent of the gastric disease patients were also found to suffer anxiety disorder and depression, while only 2.1 percent of those without it did not.

Resident specialist Arthur Mak Dun- ping of the consultation-liaison psychiatry unit at Prince of Wales Hospital said the condition may cause severe problems.

Mak said the figure suggests those with the gastric disease are three times more prone to suffer from depression and anxiety disorder.

"The higher the acid reflux frequency, the more severe the emotional disorder," he said.

In another study of 185 gastric disease patients admitted by the hospital between June 2008 and November last year, 66 percent had anxiety disorder and 22 percent symptoms of depression.

Professor Justin Wu Che-yuen of the Institute of Digestive Disease said there is a vicious cycle between emotional disorder and gastric disease.

Wu said a stomach upset brings stress to the central nervous system which then makes the esophagus oversensitive.

In so doing this makes a person become more vulnerable to further emotional distress.

A 42-year-old woman, surnamed Au, said she has suffered stomach acid reflux for 10 years.

She became depressed after losing her job last year.

"The emotional distress makes my stomach ache so much, and I always fear I might have other diseases."

She said once she had the impulse to throw her nine-year-old daughter out of a window because of the pain.

Wu warned that if drug treatment does not cure the gastric disease, patients should consider whether the ailment is caused by emotional problems.

Cognitive treatment, along with drugs, may be the cure for gastric disease caused by emotional disorders, he said.

Source: The Standard, January 25, 2010


By Mortin - Copyright 2010
Last modification 05/02/2010