Can Talk Therapy Benefit IBS?
Last updated: June 2019
One of the frustrating responses many of us with IBS have been on the receiving end of when we first started becoming symptomatic, was that the disorder was all in our heads, or "just stress." Well, new advances show that isn't true in most cases and there definitely are physical reasons and anomalies contributing to the development of IBS.
However, like other diseases and disorders that can and do impact the physical body, attending talk therapy for IBS can be useful for a few different reasons.
Talk therapy for IBS
While stress and depression may not be the primary cause or culprit for having IBS, both can exacerbate symptoms of it. So any therapeutic modality that can help a person better manage their stress and other mental or emotional problems, can contribute to benefits for IBS and other ailments. Furthermore, since the gut and the brain are closely connected, any healing modalities that concentrate on the brain can also potentially help heal the gut at least somewhat.
Sometimes you can even try to find a therapist who specializes in pain and gut issues, who can work by targeting the specific GI symptoms of their patients. For instance, I read of one doctor who specifically works on deep belly breathing techniques and gut-focused hypnotherapy to help patients with IBS better manage their disorder, with some success.
Personally, I have been attending talk therapy on and off for years and I find it helpful for both emotional turmoil and in better managing my physical ailments. While it is no cure, I find it helps address stress and also teaches me methods for distraction or concentration that can lead to a lessening of pain and other symptoms associated with IBS.
Finding the right therapist
When shopping for a mental health professional, you may want to try to find someone who has a background in working with patients with chronic pain or specific gut-related diseases and disorders. If you cannot find someone who has that specific experience, look for someone with an open mind who is willing to listen and be empathetic and learn about your situation and work together with you to better manage it.
Do you suffer from IBS-C, IBS-D, or IBS-Mixed/Alternating?