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Am J Gastroenterol. 1995 Oct;90(10):1797-803.

Psychological distress in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease.

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VA Medical Center, Portland, Oregon, USA.



Psychological factors play a role in a variety of gastrointestinal illnesses, including esophageal diseases. The role of psychological factors in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is not known. The purpose of this study was to determine if psychological distress is present in patients with reflux disease.


We performed psychological assessments in 51 patients with documented gastroesophageal reflux disease and in 43 age-matched controls using a battery of instruments.


Patients with reflux differed from controls on scales of depression, somatization, anxiety, and intensity of reporting symptom distress. However, a secondary analysis revealed that it was a subset of reflux patients (30%) that accounted for the differences between the two groups.


These results suggest that although most patients with GERD are psychologically similar to patients without GERD, a subset of psychologically distressed patients are more likely to be found among patients with GERD. They suffer from general psychological distress rather than a specific psychiatric disorder. This psychological factor could affect the clinical manifestations of reflux disease in these individuals. Recognition and management of psychological distress in this subgroup may aid in the management of reflux disease.

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