IBS Patients Show Long-Term Benefits With Psychotherapy

First Posted: Dec 28, 2015 11:12 PM EST

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects an estimated 7 to 16 percent of the U.S. population.

New findings published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that psychological therapies can help reduce symptoms in patients suffering from IBS-a chronic abdominal pain that ranges from bloating and diarrhea to constipation and other problems.

"Our study is the first one that has looked at long-term effects," said senior author Lynn S. Walker, professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in a news release. "We found that the moderate benefit that psychological therapies confer in the short term continue over the long term. This is significant because IBS is a chronic, intermittent condition for which there is no good medical treatment."

During the study, researchers analyzed different types of psychological therapies, including cognitive therapies, hypnosis and relaxation. The study findings showed that the types or length of treatment did not determine their effectiveness.

"In this study we looked at the effect of psychological therapies on gastrointestinal symptoms. In a follow-up study I am investigating the effect that they have on patients' ability to function: go to work, go to school, participate in social activities and so on," Laird concluded.

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