What is IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a fairly common condition which affects around 1 in 5 people during their lifetime. Symptoms of IBS include bloating, stomach cramps, constipation and / or diarrhoea.
Additional symptoms can include:
- Bladder problems
IBS can lead to absences from work and even a fear of going out, as anxiety around the availability of toilets takes hold.
What causes IBS?
Although certain foods can act as triggers for IBS, stress and anxiety are major contributors to occurrences of IBS. So why does anxiety bring on IBS? Well there’s a part of our brain which is designed to keep us alive by being on the lookout for danger, reacting with the “fight or flight” response when danger is spotted. This flight or fight response floods our bodies with stress hormones, which are designed to get us to react fast and move fast. Our heart races, our breathing becomes rapid and our stomach churns. We’re all familiar with this feeling, which we call anxiety.
This response is a useful survival mechanism and is necessary to keep us alive. However, the part of our brain that activates the flight or fight response is unable to tell the difference between imagination and reality. So, when we worry about things we get the same response as if we were facing real and immediate danger. And in the 21st Century, some of us worry a lot. Anxiety affects our digestive system in two ways. Firstly, blood flow to our stomach reduces and is routed to other areas when flight or fight occurs. This is because the flight or fight response is designed to increase our strength and speed, so non-essential activities such as food digestion are sacrificed to increase blood and oxygen to our legs and arms. If anxiety is chronic, then this reduction in blood flow can impact the workings of the gut. Secondly, excessive amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, which is released when we’re anxious, has a negative impact on the health of our digestive system.
How hypnotherapy can help
Reducing your levels of stress can greatly improve your IBS symptoms. Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of hypnotherapy in alleviating IBS symptoms, and the NHS NICE guidelines recommend hypnotherapy as a recognised therapy approach for IBS.
Hypnotherapy is a very relaxing and enjoyable experience and it helps you to focus on what’s good about your life. This increased positivity is accompanied by a reduction in stress levels, allowing your stomach to “rest and digest” as blood flow to the digestive system improves.
So take the first step to overcoming your IBS by contacting us today and arranging an initial consultation. We’re ready to help.