What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – and what does it mean for my life?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the most common digestive disorders, typically presenting with symptoms which include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhoea.
These symptoms are often chronic and recurrent, having a significant impact on the individual’s ability to work productively or lead a normal life.
IBS is often a long-term condition, however some people’s symptoms resolve within two years. Long-term studies of IBS patients showed that after 5 years, approximately two thirds had substantially improved.
However, there are a number of elements including stress and dietary factors, that can contribute to a return of the symptoms.
Similar Conditions to IBS
All bowel diseases can “irritate the bowel” and cause the same symptoms, thus you should not try to diagnose yourself. Some physical illnesses such as ulcerative colitis, crohns disease, coeliac disease, amoebiasis or giardiasis, bowel cancer, and ovarian cancer have some similar symptoms to Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
You should consult a doctor to ensure that you are able to exclude any other cause of your symptoms. If you have a family history of any of these conditions, it is also important to be screened to rule out other diagnoses.
You should also consult your doctor if your symptoms change for no obvious reason (such as diet or stress).
Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Counselling and psychotherapy can help people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and have been shown to have a long lasting benefit. This is because anxiety and depression are two of the factors that are thought to contribute to a worsening of the symptoms of IBS. There is a connection between the brain and the gut that is thought to contribute to the symptoms of IBS, however it is not well understood.
Some of the types of therapy that have helped some people with IBS are:
- Relaxation Therapy – Techniques include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation (tensing and loosening individual muscles), guided imagery (visualisation), deep breathing, and Emotional Freedom Technique. Each individual may respond differently, depending on which technique is suits them best.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – This is a form of psychotherapy that teaches you to be more aware of your negative automatic thoughts and underlying core beliefs, and respond to each situation in life with more realistic and helpful thinking.
- Traditional Psychotherapy – A trained mental health professional helps patients work out conflicts and understand feelings, revise expectations and values, and improve interpersonal relationships.
Interventions are based on best available evidence integrated with individual client characteristics, culture and preferences.
After correct diagnosis by a psychologist or psychiatrist, therapy for IBS can be tailored to your needs. If you have any acute or worrying symptoms you should consult your doctor to ensure you have any necessary medical treatment before seeking psychological help.
Author: Mia Olsson, BA Psych (Hons), Dip Nurs, AMAPS.
Registered Psychologist Mia Olsson has had a broad interdisciplinary role in the health industry for over thirty years, including hospital-based nurse training, and an Honours Degree majoring in Psychology. She has a particular interest in assisting clients with depressive disorders, anxiety, acute and chronic complex trauma, and health related issues.
Please note: Mia only consults under private health. If you have a Mental Health Care Plan please talk to the clinic about a seeing a psychologist who works under Medicare.
To make an appointment with Psychologist Mia Olsson, try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.
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The information on this topic page is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional.
Note: Whilst EFT has achieved excellent results with some physical and emotional conditions the technique should not be seen as a substitute for appropriate medical care and should always be used in conjunction with medical consultation and intervention for such conditions.