Many people experience the brain-gut interaction. Basically, it's the way your mind affects your stomach, like when your stomach is in knots due to nervousness. The brain-gut interaction contributes to two common disorders: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (otherwise known as IBS) and anxiety. In studies of how the two are related, it is unclear which disorder causes the other, but the interaction between the two is clear–around 60% of people with IBS meet the criteria for one or more psychiatric conditions.
Not surprisingly, the most common disorder associated with IBS is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). People who suffer from GAD often have anxiety throughout the day that cannot be related to a specific event or instance. A result of such feelings can be IBS, in which cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation are common. These physical manifestations, in turn, might cause more anxiety, perpetuating the cycle of discomfort that GAD and IBS sufferers experience day-to-day.
If you are an IBS sufferer, you are not alone; many famous people have suffered from IBS, anxiety, or both. The list is actually quite extensive. Here are a few names you might recognize:
Despite being one of the biggest names in the modeling industry, former supermodel, host of America's Next Top Model, and talk show host, Tyra Banks is not exempt from the symptoms of IBS and anxiety. She is also not afraid to inform people of her disorder, raising public awareness in a very interesting way.
On an especially charming episode of Banks's talk show featuring Janet Jackson, Banks informed the audience of her gassy nature. "I feel like I can telegraph my farts," Banks joked, "if it is going to be funky, I'll let it out and I'll be like 'Dang! Who did that?'"
But Banks's IBS and anxiety experiences have not always been humorous. The supermodel has also come forward to speak about her anxiety at red carpet events and in other aspects of life. The retired supermodel opened up in 2010 about her anxieties walking down the red carpet.
Her most frequent fear was the circulation of bad pictures of her. While she dealt well with a one-on-one session with a photographer, having over one hundred cameras clicking away at her every move caused anxiety in the superstar. It's much like having tons of those annoying Instagrammers following you around, I'd imagine.
The former Playboy Playmate and host of MTV's show Singled Out also opened up about her difficulties with anxiety and IBS in her 1997 autobiography, Jen-X: Jenny McCarthy's Open Book. In fact, her autobiography has a whole chapter dedicated to the starlet's struggle with IBS.
In the book, McCarthy claims that she does not need to exercise to stay thin—the chronic diarrhea she is faced with on a normal basis keeps her thin. Additionally, McCarthy stated that her nervousness contributes to this condition, causing many readers to think that McCarthy battles with an anxiety disorder. These anxieties stem from a variety of places, including finding a job to support herself, family issues, and romantic involvement. McCarthy spoke about her experiences on the Howard Stern Show, along with her difficulties breaking up with her boyfriend and raising her son with him.
Actress Kirsten Dunst is the poster child for a linkage between mental illness and IBS. Though Dunst does not directly combat with anxiety, it is often a side effect of depression. In 2011, while she was promoting her movie Melancholia, the star talked about how she and other Hollywood actresses were treated gave rise to her depression. Specifically, Dunst was frustrated by the double standard of actresses needing to be sensitive and vulnerable, but also sociable and outgoing. She told the press that her issue with depression was "very personal," and had caused her to check into the Cirque Lodge rehabilitation clinic in the previous year.
In 1996, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Camille Grammer was diagnosed with IBS. Soon after, her and her then husband Kelsey Grammer became advocates for the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders.
The star opened up about her IBS in multiple interviews, saying, "I am always fearful that my IBS symptoms will return at any moment, so I always have to know where the nearest restroom is."
Though not diagnosed with any specific form of anxiety, the Housewives star has had her fair share of anxiety. Most recently, her divorce with Kelsey Grammer has caused Camille great distress over the future of her children and the way they are being raised. Camille claims that her ex-husband will not hear her mentioned anywhere in his house, nor will he communicate with her in any way. Such situations are bound to cause Camille increased anxiety and, quite possibly, increased symptoms of IBS.
Digesting the Issue
If you have having trouble coping with IBS and anxiety, understand that you are not alone. Any number of people, famous or not, have dealt with a similar problem and continue to fight the daily battles that accompany such issues. If these four celebrities can embrace their conditions and not stress over it, so can you.
Recommended For You
Date of original publication: August 15, 2013