Does Stress Cause Ulcerative Colitis?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

My son has ulcerative colitis. Could stress be responsible for his flare-ups?

Doctor's response

The severity of symptoms in ulcerative colitis (a chronic inflammatory disease of the large intestine and rectum) can vary depending on the location of the inflammation within the bowel and the severity of the inflammation. Doctors do not know the exact cause of ulcerative colitis. Most researchers do not believe that psychological stress is the cause of ulcerative colitis.

Nevertheless, it is known that stress may worsen the symptoms of this condition. And, it is therefore, recommended that people with ulcerative colitis practice stress-control techniques, along with eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, to help control the symptoms of the disease.

Medically reviewed by Robert Bargar, MD; Board Certification in Public Health & General Preventive Medicine


"Acute stress disorder in adults: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, and diagnosis"

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Reviewed on 9/19/2017