Hypnosis for IBS

Hypnosis for IBS IBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome (spastic colon)




Symptoms of IBS

IBS is characterised by mild to severe abdominal pain, and may include bloating and/or changes in bowel habits, for example diarrhoea or constipation, sometimes alternating between the two. Other symptoms can include feeling sick, poor appetite, burping, headache, backache, tiredness, muscle pain, feeling ’full up’ soon after eating, heartburn, and bladder symptoms (an associated 'irritable bladder').The symptoms alone are most distressing, but the way we think about IBS should also be given the credibility it deserves.

Thought Processes around IBS

The thought process associated with the symptoms of IBS are very important, because people navigate the day around avoiding situations where they believe their IBS will be triggered. This is an exhausting exercise because they will also need to know where the toilets are; how quickly they are going to be able to get to them in addition to having the discomfort and exhaustion of the complaint itself. Wondering if they should call in work sick because an attack may be looming; wondering what will happen if they get caught in traffic going to or from work. Sometimes, when at work, being expected to stay at a desk for long periods, and feeling deeply anxious that the IBS will start and then having to leave the desk anyway?

If all this isn’t enough what about a social life? I can hear you saying, ‘What social life?. Alcohol may upset our already dodgy digestive system. Having a girl/boy friend - how to explain a constant need to be close to a toilet at all times. What will they think of you? When these thoughts crowd in they only serve to increase the stress, and anxiety already felt by being unable to live a full and happy life without these symptoms.

A common theory, is that IBS is a disorder of the interaction between the brain (which is the centre of the nervous system) and the gastrointestinal tract. Other writings state the exact cause of IBS is unknown, but that there are sometimes genetics at work, indicating there is inherent gene which predispose some people to IBS. There is other evidence that support the theory that IBS is triggered by, or follows an infection or post infection or a stressful life event.

How Hypnosis helps with IBS

Hypnosis aims to help with the anxiety that fuels the symptoms of IBS. To clarify, there are two kinds of anxiety:

  1. Real time anxiety
  2. Anticipatory anxiety

Real time anxiety is when we feel nervous about starting a new job, or making a presentation. Perfectly normal and natural giving us a bit of edge and raising levels of awareness so we don‘t forget anything.

Anticipatory anxiety is when intrusive thoughts play over and over in our minds. They cause us to think about the worse case scenarios e.g. What if I need to use the toilet before the end of the presentation? What if I can’t get away in time? And so it goes on - the fear of what may happen has already been running in the background long before the reality.

It makes sense that if anxiety levels are lowered the IBS symptoms will also decrease. Those intrusive thoughts fuelling the anxiety aggravate the symptoms, so when we address the cause of the anxiety the symptoms fade away.