New research out of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton has shown how the gold standard for treating those with depression and anxiety can also reduce their symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment or “talking therapy” that helps patients in understanding the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviors.
CBT is commonly used to treat a wide range of disorders, including phobias, addiction, depression and anxiety. This recent study was undertaken to investigate the influence of CBT on patients suffering from panic disorders and anxiety with IBS symptoms. After the patients completed intake assessments and CBT treatment sessions, results showed significant reductions in their IBS symptoms.
Talking therapy sessions allowed many of the participants affected by IBS to regain control over their lives.
“This study puts yet another spotlight on the important link between a person’s brain and their gut,” says Randi McCabe, Director of the Anxiety Treatment and Research Centre at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. “Interestingly, what it also shows is the vital part that CBT has within this relationship. Many patients that suffer from panic disorders and anxiety also present with IBS, and CBT has shown to be a valid form of treatment for those dealing with both disorders.”
McCabe says that of the 55 men and women who participated in the study, 90 per cent had panic disorder with agoraphobia and 41 per cent were also affected by symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and variations of bowel habits. Several medical conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome and depression, have been shown to appear with greater frequency in patients diagnosed with IBS.
The results of the Anxiety Treatment and Research Centre’s study were published in the Journal of Depression and Anxiety.