Psychotherapy Provides Long-Term IBS Benefits

JULY 21, 2016
Psychological therapies are known to provide short-term symptom relief to patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but the results of a recent study indicate that these benefits may extend even longer than previously thought. The study, published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, examined data on more than 2200 patients with IBS across 41 clinical trials. Based on this meta-analysis, the research team determined that the IBS benefits afforded by psychotherapy lasted at least 6 to 12 months after the conclusion of therapy.

The researchers found no significant difference in efficiency between different types of psychotherapy, such as cognitive therapies, relaxation, and hypnosis. The length of the treatment or number of sessions were also found to have little effect on potential benefits. In addition, online therapy was discovered to be comparable to in-person treatments in effectiveness.

“Western medicine often conceptualizes the mind as separate from the body, but IBS is a perfect example of how the two are connected,” said study author and doctoral student Kelsey Laird in a press release. “Gastrointestinal symptoms can increase stress and anxiety, which can increase the severity of the symptoms. This is a vicious cycle that psychological treatment can help break.”

Laird and her colleagues plan to follow up on their findings by investigating how psychological therapy influences patients’ ability to perform daily functions, such as working, going to school, or participating in social activities.

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