According to the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, the main difference between the two diseases is that in IBD, structural damage to the gut as a result of chronic inflammation is clearly discernible on x-ray, biopsy or during surgery, while symptoms of IBS may arise as a manifestation of a brain-gut disorder (eg stress).

Based on studies that have shown that IBS may arise as a result of abnormalities in brain-gut functioning, the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tetracyclic antidepressants (TCAs) in the treatment of IBS have gained popularity over recent years.

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