Stress, Anxiety, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Considering Therapy and Support for IBS
Blanchard says two-thirds of IBS sufferers tend to get better with changes in diet and medication. The other third, people with more severe symptoms, are good candidates for psychological help. "Without that, they don't seem to get out of the problem that they're in," he says.
Behavioral therapy has been shown to relieve some IBS symptoms in many people who try it. This broad term covers a variety of therapies, including relaxation therapy, biofeedback, hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy, and traditional psychotherapy. Therapy has limitations, however. Some studies have found it does not help relieve constipation or constant abdominal aches that come with IBS.
Another option is to attend a self-help group for people with IBS or other digestive disorders. Members of these groups know what it's like to live with IBS. Sometimes they can offer more meaningful support than you could get from even your closest friends.
"You are not alone in trying to handle it all," says Lynn Jacks, founder of an IBS support group in Summit, N.J.
There are support groups around the globe. Contact the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders at 888-964-2001 for referrals. Or tap into the web site of the IBS Self-Help and Support Group at http://www.ibsgroup.org. You can also go to WebMD's Digestive Disorders Support Group, which is available 24 hours a day.