Advertisement

How can cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) help treat a GI disorder?

Lawrence S. Friedman, MD
Gastroenterology
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, involves working with a therapist to reframe negative ways of thinking and behaviors that affect a person's gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and quality of life. The goal is to change counterproductive thoughts and actions and learn new coping skills. This may be accomplished through a number of techniques, including changing negative thought patterns, learning stress management and relaxation techniques, modeling healthy behaviors, and role playing. CBT can reduce the stress of dealing with a functional GI disorder so that the disorder is no longer the focal point of a person's life. As stress decreases, symptoms often improve, and in turn stress and anxiety improve even further. In fact, in a study of patients with irritable bowel syndrome, 70% reported less pain, bloating, and diarrhea after 12 weeks of CBT.

Many mental health professionals practice CBT, including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and psychiatric nurses. Most cognitive behavioral therapists are not specifically trained in treating irritable bowel syndrome or other functional GI disorders unless they are associated with a clinic that specializes in treating these conditions. More likely, you will be taught more general techniques that you can apply to your specific situation. To find a trained cognitive behavioral therapist, consult your doctor or health plan, or visit the Web site of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. Make sure your therapist has a license to practice in your state.

Continue Learning about Mental Health

What Mental Health Issues Affect Veterans Most?
What Mental Health Issues Affect Veterans Most?
Military life can be mentally and emotionally challenging at times. Whether you're in training, deployed or a Veteran, you may be dealing with anxiety...
Read More
Do people with mental illness have lower income?
Ellen FrudakisEllen Frudakis
Many of the people I know with mental illness have a lower level of income compared to others withou...
More Answers
Your Anger Management Menu
Your Anger Management MenuYour Anger Management MenuYour Anger Management MenuYour Anger Management Menu
Believe it or not, your mood is affected by your diet. Try these foods to for steady blood sugar and a better attitude all day long.
Start Slideshow
Why Is There a Stigma Associated with Mental Illness?
Why Is There a Stigma Associated with Mental Illness?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.