HealthDay News — Biases in emotional processing may contribute to depression in individuals with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) who have active disease, according to a study published online July 2 in Neurogastroenterology & Motility.

Ben Wilkinson, from University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted assessments in 120 patients with IBD (including 68 with Crohn disease and 49 with ulcerative colitis) to evaluate anxiety and depression (in 104 participants), biases in emotional recognition (in 112 participants), emotional memory and reinforcement learning, and demographic characteristics. Additionally, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels were measured in 99 participants.

The researchers found that 35 participants had active disease and 26 had depression. Depression was more likely among participants who were female, lacked social support, had active disease, took corticosteroids but not tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors, and showed less positive emotional recognition bias. Depression was independently associated with lack of social support and increased disease activity. Less positive emotional recognition bias partially mediated the effects of disease activity on depression.

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“These findings are preliminary but suggest that negative cognitive biases associated with IBD activity may lead to the development of depression in people with IBD,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Our results could indicate novel ways to treat or even prevent depression in people with IBD, though our findings require replication in prospective studies, which will allow us to draw stronger inferences on the causal association of cognitive biases with depression.”

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