Could hypnotherapy help with your Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
April is IBS Awareness month, so I thought I would have a look at how hypnotherapy can help with this condition. IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is a condition that produces gastrointestinal tract pain for countless people. Although it is a physical disorder which can't be removed or cured via hypnosis, hypnotherapy has been shown to be effective in helping many individuals to manage the symptoms of their IBS.
What is IBS?
The signs of IBS can include gut pains, loose stools, constipation, acid reflux, flatulence, queasiness and trapped wind. Some people with irritable bowel syndrome worry about their symptoms getting out of control when they are away from home and end up avoiding social outings as a result. This can lead to feelings of isolation, and periods of depression and anxiety which make it even harder to cope.
Despite the fact that it is a common condition it can have more of an impact on quality of life than many people realise; those who have to live with IBS can find it a daily struggle. Some sufferers are able to predict what will make their symptoms flare up and are only affected at times of stress, or at meal times, or after certain foods. Others find their lives thoroughly crippled by the condition, and may experience serious pain much of the time.
The cause of IBS is generally unknown, although it's thought to be a problem with the way the gut functions. Some researchers have proposed that individuals with IBS could have a heightened sensitivity in the gut, or feel gut pain differently from those without the condition.
Worry and panic attacks are some of the psychological issues believed to make irritable bowel symptoms worse. The symptoms can start off being relatively mild but the worrying about them tends to mean they get progressively worse. Worry alone can be enough to bring on intense levels of stress in some people and the whole cycle begins again.
A diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome can only be made by a medical professional, and they will advise about changes in lifestyle and diet to reduce the chances of symptoms occurring, alongside medication to control the symptoms when they do flare up. It's unwise to self-medicate or self-diagnose because there are other conditions with similar symptoms which require a completely different approach. A diagnosis used to require a colonoscopy, which many people found to be a scary thought. Some avoided going to their doctors because of this. However, IBS is now most often diagnosed through the 'Rome lll' criteria, as recommended by NICE, which requires only symptom testing and blood tests.
Once IBS is properly diagnosed, a hypnotic approach can help you in a number of ways:
- relaxation and stress/anxiety reduction to help keep symptoms to a minimum
- hypnotic pain control to reduce discomfort
- motivation to follow diet and exercise plans recommended by your GP
- confidence boost for those whose worries about their symptoms have kept them from participating in life fully
Hypnosis and IBS
Hypnosis cannot cure or treat the IBS itself, but it could be the key to aiding you to decrease and control your symptoms. You'll need to keep up the techniques at home (especially listening to special audios designed to keep the programme going) but if you are prepared to do this, it’s a great way to get back in control.
Psychological health and physical health are connected, especially in conditions which tend to flare up when our stress levels rise.
For many of those affected, reducing your IBS symptoms could significantly improve your everyday life.
If you think you may have irritable bowel syndrome, your first step should be your GP. Once other causes for your symptoms are ruled out, get in touch with myself or another hypnotherapist who has the appropriate training to help you. Or check out the freebies and information on my special IBS help website HERE.
You could surprise yourself with just how powerful your mind can be.
Debbie Waller is a professional hypnotherapist, specialising in stress, anxiety and related issues. She also offers EMDR which is used for trauma, PTSD, phobias and OCD and publishes hypnotherapy-for-ibs.co.uk for those interested in using hypnotherapy to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Debbie owns a multi-accredited hypnotherapy school, Yorkshire Hypnotherapy Training and offers further training for qualified therapists via CPD Expert. She is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words, editor and contributor to the online magazine Hypnotherapy Training & Practitioner, and co-author of The Hypnotherapy Handbook.
For more information on any of these services, phone 01977 678593.
Researcher & drafter: Rachel Waller.