Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects one person in five and is the world’s most common digestive disorder, with symptoms including:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation

Pain can range from mild to severe and may occur at a particular time of the day.

For many IBS sufferers stress, anxiety or other emotional upset is an important factor in the triggering of their IBS symptoms due to the strong connection between the nervous system and the gut. Many people living with IBS find their symptoms to be an occasional nuisance. However, for other people, the condition can seriously affect their quality of life.

For many, stress, tension and anxiety often caused by IBS can serve to undermine the immune system and further compromise health. Evidence suggests that our emotional state can trigger problems in the gut as intense feelings of anxiety and stress may cause us to suffer irregular bowel habits, with a worsening of symptoms. These feelings may in time interfere with the regularity of the digestive system, even in those who have not previously experienced IBS.

When anxious, we are in a high state of arousal and our minds are scanning the environment looking for the cause of the anxiety. Often there may be no apparent cause as our anxiety has built up, perhaps unnoticed, over a period of time. Anxiety is necessary but it must to be appropriate to the situation. It is a normal response to stress or danger, more commonly referred to as the ‘flight or fight’ response. Since the danger our minds perceive very rarely exists, the act of evacuating the bowels frequently serves no functional purpose. Many sufferers consider that stress is an important factor and is responsible for triggering flare ups of their symptoms.

How hypnotherapy can help

Prior to beginning therapy, it is recommended that the General Practitioner is consulted to investigate any possible medical conditions causing problems with the gut.

While there is no cure for IBS, there are lifestyle changes that can help manage the symptoms. Since our state of mind can have an effect on our physical well-being, learning how to relax and reduce anxiety is an essential component of hypnotherapy for IBS. Hypnotherapy helps to promote positive thinking and develop coping strategies so that instances of stress can be better managed, without its affecting our bodily functions.

Hypnotherapy is now a recognised therapy for IBS by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).