Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome can cause pain and restrict your life because you don’t want to be in unknown places. It is something that few people tend to discuss because they feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. IBS is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. It is a chronic condition that you will need to manage long term. IBS affects up to one in five people in the UK over the course of their lifetime. Sufferers often find it debilitating, distressing and extremely uncomfortable. The exact cause of IBS is unknown, it has been linked to things such as food passing through your gut too slowly or quickly, oversensitive nerves in your gut, and a family history of IBS. Furthermore, according to the NHS website “There is a lot of evidence that psychological factors play an important role in IBS”. This does not mean that IBS is purely in the mind, as the symptoms are very real. But research shows that emotional states such as stress and anxiety can cause chemical changes that obstruct the workings of the digestive system. The symptoms vary in severity and duration from person to person. However, they last at least three months for at least three days per month.

Symptoms of IBS can include:

• Stomach pain or cramps

• Bloating

• Diarrhoea

• Constipation

• Flatulence

• Tiredness/lack of energy

• Nausea

• Backache

• Problems peeing, such as a need to pee often, sudden urges to pee, feeling like you cannot empty your bladder

IBS sufferers may experience a combination of symptoms, frequently with one symptom occurring more regularly or severely. Symptoms can vary from mild, in which they do significantly impair the individual’s quality of life, to serious, causing them to seek medical help. In addition to all the physical symptoms that IBS causes, sufferers may also become anxious, depressed, or become socially isolated due to their condition.

When to contact your GP

IBS is a medical condition, it is, therefore, important to consult your doctor first for information, advice, and a diagnosis. If you have had any of the symptoms discussed above within the last 6 months, you should get in touch with your doctor. Your GP will assess your symptoms and possibly conduct further tests to check for other possible causes.

How can we help?

NICE have recommended hypnotherapy as an effective treatment for helping IBS. By tackling the possible psychological factors that may be causing IBS, hypnotherapy can help alleviate the symptoms and address any underlying anxiety. It gives you the tools to be able to cope better, reducing the risk of stress triggering your IBS symptoms in the future. Hypnotherapy can also help you to manage any pain that might be experienced as a result of the condition. Learning how to relax and manage your stress becomes a useful tool. By accessing the subconscious mind in a deepened state of relaxation, hypnotherapy can also promote positive thinking and coping strategies that improve your overall quality of life.

For further help and support regarding IBS, these links may be useful: