IBS is a fairly common condition of the digestive system, with between 10% and 20% of the population experiencing some of the symptoms. IBS often first appears between the ages of 20 and 30, and may come and go depending on a person’s life experience and often appears during times of stress. When IBS is present, it can be a painful, upsetting and debilitating condition. It can lead to changes in behaviour and very often has a negative impact on lifestyle and relationships.
The symptoms of IBS include:
- Chronic abdominal pain and discomfort
- Altered bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhoea, possibly alternating
- Abdominal bloating, either actual or felt
- An urgent need to empty the bowel
The cause of IBS is still unclear, though is likely mixture of physical and psychological factors combining to trigger the symptoms. The risk of developing IBS has been shown to increase after acute gastrointestinal infection, whilst other studies indicate that up to 60% of people with IBS have a diagnosable psychological condition such as anxiety or depression associated. Factors such as stress, anxiety and past or on-going stressful life events have been shown to be involved in the onset of IBS. People with IBS are also more likely to be suffering with other conditions.
These may include: fibromyalgia, headache, backache, depression and anxiety.
There is no test to diagnose IBS, instead tests are conducted to eliminate other conditions which have similar symptoms. Only if the results of these tests are normal can the other conditions be eliminated as possible causes of the symptoms, and IBS may then be diagnosed.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended hypnotherapy as a psychological therapy for refractory IBS.
The following text from the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council underlines this point:
‘Hypnotherapy has also been used with both adults and children to help manage the pain associated with irritable bowel. There is evidence to support its use in this condition for both adults and children and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends the NHS should consider referring patients for hypnotherapy if their irritable bowel is persistent and has failed to respond to simple prescribed medicine’.
How hypnotherapy can help:
Hypnotherapy can assist in alleviating IBS in two ways.
The first involves an approach called ‘Gut Directed Therapy’ (GDT) and the above-mentioned NICE guidelines were based on research using this type of protocol. This process assist in identifying alleviating the immediate presenting symptoms.
The second approach is to work on underlying factors such as stress, anxiety, depression or trauma. Often, this can be very valuable work, bringing about worthwhile results and benefits beyond the relief of the IBS symptoms. I find that using an integrative approach of alleviating symptoms and addressing the underlaying reasons for the IBS is the best approach based on my experience.
For this reason I would not recommend the use of pre-recorded audio tracks alone for the treatment of IBS.
If symptoms of IBS are taking away your freedom of choice or freedom to be your calm self, please click to book an appointment and lets get started on creating a life free of unnecessary anxiety.