One of the world’s most common gut-brain disorders is notoriously hard to manage given there’s no single treatment guaranteed to relieve symptoms or work for everyone.
Irritable bowel syndrome – or IBS – affects 15 per cent of the global population. The cause of IBS isn’t well understood, with diagnoses often based on symptoms that include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.
While some people manage symptoms with diet, lifestyle changes and stress coping mechanisms, others require medication and counselling.
Despite its impact on a patient’s quality of life, IBS has no effect on mortality. However, research confirms that IBS sufferers face higher rates of mental health concerns, with up to 40 per cent of IBS patients living with some form of anxiety disorder.
The rate of lifetime depression in patients with IBS is 60 per cent, three times higher than the rate in healthy individuals of 20 per cent. This makes depression the most common psychiatric disorder caused by IBS and highlights a clear link between mood disorders and the digestive system.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel for IBS sufferers. Research reveals that at-home app delivered gut-directed hypnotherapy (GDH) can help people manage both their mental health and IBS symptoms, drug and diet-free.
GDH, through the Nerva program, has been shown to reduce symptoms such as pain, bloating and wind equal to an elimination diet for IBS (low FODMAP). Impressively, the improvements were maintained for at least six months, and levels of anxiety reduced as an added bonus.
While IBS is not ‘all in the mind’, the gut-brain connection means targeting the mind through stress management can positively influence perceptions of pain in the gut, says clinical psychophysiologist and Nerva program creator Dr Simone Peters.
“Managing IBS by retraining the gut-brain connection isn’t a theory – it’s a scientific fact”, says Dr Peters.
Hypnosis-based therapy is effective for most people, with some being more receptive than others, adds co-founder Alex Naoumidis.
Nerva helps patients learn to self-manage IBS symptoms with 20-minute daily hypnotherapy sessions, breathing exercises, and educational readings.
The Nerva program is broken into two phases; the first being a six-week course focused on helping patients gain control over their symptoms, followed by an ongoing pain support program focused on helping patients keep their symptoms under control.
Nerva is available on both iOS and Android and is suitable for people suffering from a range of IBS-related symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, nausea and high levels of anxiety.
YourLifeChoices members can access a free seven-day trial to help manage IBS symptoms.
Do you have IBS? Does it affect your mental health? Would you be interested in using this new app? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?
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