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Psychotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Topic Overview

Psychotherapy may be effective for people who have severe pain caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Psychotherapy involves talking with a mental health professional about emotional and psychological problems that may trigger symptoms of IBS. Religious or spiritual advisers may offer similar help. Family therapy and support groups also may help in the treatment of IBS.

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Psychological treatment methods may be more effective if used along with other treatments, such as diet modification, stress reduction, and sometimes medicine. People with symptoms of IBS who may have success with these treatments include people who have:1

  • Diarrhea and pain as their main symptoms.
  • IBS symptoms related to psychological triggers, such as depression, anxiety, or a history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

People who do not think that psychological factors play a role in triggering their symptoms may not respond to psychotherapy. Also, people who have constipation and abdominal bloating as their main symptoms may not respond to psychotherapy as well as those who have diarrhea and pain.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: April 26, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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