Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms can be relieved with psychological therapy, according to research. The meta-analysis study found the benefits of psychological therapy may last between six to 12 months after the therapy completion. The study analyzed results of 41 clinical trials involving over 2,200 patients.
Senior author Lynn S. Walker explained, “Our study is the first one that has looked at long-term effects. We found that the moderate benefit that psychological therapies confer in the short term continue over the long term. This is significant because IBS is a chronic, intermittent condition for which there is no good medical treatment.”
First author Kelsey Laird added, “Western medicine often conceptualizes the mind as separate from the body, but IBS is a perfect example of how the two are connected. Gastrointestinal symptoms can increase stress and anxiety, which can increase the severity of the symptoms. This is a vicious cycle that psychological treatment can help break.”
The study analyzed different psychological treatments including cognitive therapies, relaxation, and hypnosis. There were no significant differences in effectiveness from the different types of psychotherapy. The duration of treatment didn’t matter either.
Laird concluded, “In this study, we looked at the effect of psychological therapies on gastrointestinal symptoms. In a follow-up study, I am investigating the effect that they have on patients’ ability to function: go to work, go to school, participate in social activities, and so on.”
Irritable bowel syndrome psychological treatment options
Behavioral therapy can be recommended as a form of treatment for patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Stress and anxiety have been shown to aggravate IBS, so by taking your emotional state under control you may have greater success in symptom relief.
Other psychological treatments for IBS include relaxation practices, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and traditional talk therapy.
Although these therapies won’t aid with all IBS-related symptoms, they can help improve stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, and some other problems. Besides, once you are not experiencing these symptoms, you will find your stress and anxiety levels go down, too.
A combination of behavioral therapy and medical intervention may be your best bet for proper IBS treatment.