Psychotherapy May Be Effective In Easing IBD Symptoms

According to the New York Times blog, ‘Well’, a review published online December 22, 2015 in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology ‘Short- and Long- Term Efficacy of Psychological Therapies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis’ suggests that psychotherapy may be “effective in easing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome…even after therapy has ended.”

Irritable bowel syndrome can cause diarrhea, cramping, fever and sometimes rectal bleeding and Crohn’s Disease is part of this. The chronic ailment affects up to 11 percent of the population, and there is no cure or completely effective treatment.

After examining “data from 41 clinical trials that included 1,183 people assigned to psychotherapy and 1,107 controls,” investigators found that one year “after the end of treatment, 75 percent of the treatment group had greater symptom relief than the average member of the control group, although the benefits were modest.”

“I.B.S. is notoriously difficult to treat,” said the lead author, Kelsey T. Laird, a doctoral candidate at Vanderbilt University, “so the fact that these effects are just as strong six to 12 months later is very exciting — a significant effect, which did not decrease over time.”

Whether a given individual will benefit from psychotherapy is still unknown, Ms. Laird said. But, she added, “We do know that this seems to be one of the best treatments out there. So I would recommend it.”

Supporting Ms. Laird’s recommendation, the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology report  said “Psychological therapies reduce GI symptoms in adults with IBS. These effects remained significant and medium in magnitude after short and long-term follow-up periods.”.