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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Do you have a diagnosis of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)? 


1 in 5 people suffer from IBS and up to 60% of people with IBS have co-morbid psychological symptoms such as depression or anxiety and the evidence suggests that psychological symptoms play an important role in IBS. 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition characterised by abdominal discomfort associated with altered bowel movements. 

There is no medical test for IBS. A clear description of symptoms gives the GP clues as to whether the patient is suffering from IBS or another Gastrointestinal Disease. 

In January 2016, the new Rome IV criteria for diagnosing IBS was introduced. 


Rec average at least one day week in the last three months associated with two or more of the following criteria.*


  1. Related to defecation.

  2. Associated with the change in the frequency of stool. 

  3. Associated with a change in form (Appearance) of stool.


* Criteria fulfilled for the last 3 months with symptom onset at least 6 months prior to diagnosis.


What causes IBS?

The cause of IBS is not known. However, the first time you may have  noticed your symptoms could be around a time when you were experiencing a very stressful event. This may have been that you started  a new job, moved house, or experienced an illness or death of someone close to you, had a stressful work related situation, perhaps a threat of redundancy or you were experiencing problems with your relationship. 

Alternatively you may have first noticed your IBS after having gastric flu or another stomach upset. 

Whilst the causes of IBS are unclear, it can be made worse by stress and anxiety.



Types of IBS


  • IBS with constipation (IBS-C): Most of your poop is hard and lumpy.

  • IBS with diarrhoea (IBS-D): Most of your poop is loose and watery.

  • IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M): You have both hard and lumpy bowel movements and loose and watery movements on the same day.


Symptoms of IBS

The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are 

Pain in your abdomen, often related to your bowel movements, and changes in your bowel movements. These changes may be diarrhoea, constipation, or both, depending on what type of IBS you have.


Other symptoms of IBS may include


  • bloating

  • the feeling that you haven’t finished a bowel movement

  • whitish mucus in your stool

Women with IBS often have more symptoms during their periods


People with IBS may also experience symptoms unrelated to the intestine, including:


  • Migraine headaches.

  • Sleep disturbances.

  • Anxiety or depression.

  • Fibromyalgia.

  • Chronic pelvic pain.




How does Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy Work and help with IBS? 


Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (CBH) is a modern method of combining Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with clinical Hypnotherapy to bring about positive and long lasting changes. 


IBS, has been classified as a disorder of brain-gut interaction. This means that there is a problem with the way the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and the enteric nervous system (the nervous system of the gut) communicate information back and forth about our digestion, appetite, thoughts, and emotions. In simple terms there is faulty wiring between the brain and the gut. 


The gut-brain communication is bidirectional, and there is evidence that a disruption in either of these pathways can contribute to symptoms of IBS, such as abdominal pain and altered bowel habits (constipation or diarrhoea), or to psychiatric comorbidities.


The pathway between the brain and the gut is called the brain-gut axis, and it relies on chemical messengers, including serotonin, for communication. 

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy for IBS works by teaching you and identify the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviour and to help you with developing and implementing effective ways to  cope with IBS. 


The sessions will also empower you to reduce anxiety and helps you manage the pain. 


Hypnotherapy sessions reduce anxiety which is such a significant factor in IBS. 


Hypnotherapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in a number of clinical studies. 


The treatment plans for IBS are tailor made to suit you and will involves looking at your thinking patterns and how these exacerbate the IBS symptoms and develop new ways of thinking along with relaxation techniques and, Hypnotherapy that will include suggestions focused on the your symptoms. 


The sessions have been noted  to make improvements in overall well-being, quality of life, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea, and bloating have been noted.



Clinical Trials prove that Hypnotherapy helps IBS


There is evidence to suggest that Gut Directed Hypnotherapy has helped in the reductions of IBS symptoms. The text relating to this can be found here.


Another randomised Trial done with young people can be found here.


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