The following article is a part of conference coverage from the 2019 Advances in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (AIBD) Meeting, being held in Orlando, Florida. The team at MPR will be reporting on the latest news and research conducted by leading experts gastroenterology. Check back for more from the 2019 AIBD Meeting.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) diagnosis appears to be associated with high levels of anxiety and depression in children, however, new study findings presented at the 2019 AIBD Annual Meeting suggest that many of these patients may not be receiving appropriate mental health services.

To better understand the frequency of use of both psychotropic medications and mental health services by pediatric IBD patients, study authors conducted a retrospective chart review between 2016 and 2019 of patients seen at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). A total of 400 pediatric IBD patients were included in the study; use of psychotropic drugs for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or chronic migraines was excluded from the analysis.

Results showed that among these patients, 28.5% were taking psychotropic drugs, primarily selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), to treat anxiety, depression, or another psychological disorder. Moreover, 75% of those who were receiving treatment with psychotropic agents and/or mental health services initiated treatment after being diagnosed with IBD. Among patients taking psychotropic medications, only 57% were being seen by a mental health provider. 

Based on their findings, the authors concluded that more anxiety and depression screening may be needed for pediatric IBD patients and that increased awareness through clinical handouts during routine gastroenterology visits might improve utilization. They added that “Future directions include developing mental health screening measures specifically for the pediatric IBD population and conducting longitudinal studies to examine whether preemptive mental health interventions lessen the risk of developing psychopathology.” 


Conboy N, et al. Psychotropic Medication and Mental Health Service Usage in Pediatric Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Presented at the 2019 AIBD Annual Meeting on December 12-14 2019 in Orlando, FL.