Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Anxiety Disorders – Hypnotherapy in Ely

Anxiety Stress and Panic Attacks

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Anxiety Disorders hypnotherapy ely


Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Anxiety Disorders – Hypnotherapy in Ely

If you struggle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) then you’ll already know how unpleasant, uncomfortable and limiting the symptoms can be. Although intensity and frequency of symptoms can vary, they include abdominal pain and bloating. People generally suffer with constipation, diarrhoea or a combination of both.

If you have IBS you may also struggle with mental health issues, such as anxiety. I’ve worked with clients who get anxious about leaving the house, being in situations where they are uncertain of access to toilet facilities, or any other situation where they may feel ‘trapped’ in some way. I’ve known of clients who need to allow over an hour of additional time before leaving the house and those who won’t eat all day to try and minimise their symptoms. You may feel anxious about going to new places, long journeys and other situations where your symptoms could impact or you feel they might embarrass you.

Of course, one of the common symptoms of anxiety is itself uncomfortable feelings in the stomach. And so there can be a negative spiral of anxiety and IBS, and IBS and anxiety, where each exacerbates the other. The end result is with anxious thoughts and feelings, frustration, stress, annoyance, catastrophising and limiting or avoiding situations.

Perhaps even more frustratingly, there is no certain test or procedure that can medically confirm the IBS. With severe symptoms, you may have undergone multiple investigations and tests, which can rule other things out, but which frustratingly can’t confirm that you have IBS (they just confirm that you don’t have the other conditions).

And because the symptoms of IBS can be unpredictable, and you may have better and worse moments, your anxiety can lead you to worry about the worst happening this time, or what if you have that bloating, discomfort, constipation or diarrhoea. Worse, what if others notice or you experience intense symptoms in front of people you would rather not know about your IBS, or where you just can’t get to a toilet quick enough, or where you just need to be in the safe environment of home?

Although anxiety can lead to unpleasant stomach sensations through its impact on the digestive system, it’s very different from struggling with anxiety and IBS (although as mentioned above, both anxiety and IBS can exacerbate each other). Many people with IBS, due to the pain and discomfort, also struggle with anxiety.

Recent research, based upon a sample of over 50,000 people, suggests that both anxiety and IBS may share common genes (Eijsbouts, C., Zheng, T., Kennedy, N.A., Voda, A.I., McVean, G., Holliday, J. and Jostins, L., 2021. Genome-wide analysis of 53,400 people with irritable bowel syndrome highlights shared genetic pathways with mood and anxiety disorders. Nature Genetics). The same genes that increase the risk of you having IBS, also increase the risk of anxiety disorders. This doesn’t mean that IBS causes anxiety, or that anxiety causes IBS, it just means that they share these common genes (and hopefully this discovery and future research will increase the potential treatment options for IBS).

You may be offered medication for your IBS (and anxiety disorders), and you can make some dietary changes to try and manage symptoms, although sometimes neither of these offers much relief. However, there is impressive evidence for the effectiveness of treating both IBS and anxiety.


Help For Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Hypnotherapy has a very strong and impressive evidence base for its effectiveness in treating irritable bowel syndrome.

For example, Whitehead et al (2006), looked at the results of eleven studies that assessed the therapeutic effects of hypnosis for IBS and found that, “hypnosis has been reported to be successful in impacting IBS symptoms in all the 11 outcome studies published to date. Where success rates have been reported, they have ranged from 61% to 100%…with a median success rate of 87%.”

These results are impressive, with the great majority of hypnosis IBS patients enjoying potentially life-changing improvements. In addition, these positive results were achieved with people who had tried multiple other interventions and treatments without benefiting from them.

Another review of hypnotherapy for IBS also showed consistent and positive results for relieving the symptoms of IBS. Tan, Hammond and Gurrala (2005) concluded that “hypnosis consistently produces significant results and improves the cardinal symptoms of IBS in the majority of patients.”

And again, ancillary issues such as emotional well-being and quality of life also improved throughout the hypnotherapy. In both of these reviews, the positive effects were sustained over a considerable amount of time.

A more recent review by Krouwel et al (2021) suggests that higher volume hypnotherapy is more beneficial than lower volume and that this should be used for gut-directed hypnotherapy in the treatment of IBS. Treatment that involved eight or more sessions, or over six hours contact time with the therapist, delivered better results for IBS sufferers. And when delivered on a weekly or more frequent basis, hypnotherapy for IBS was found to be significantly effective.

Thus the science and evidence suggests that hypnotherapy is a highly effective treatment for helping you with the symptoms of IBS. A series of hypnotherapy sessions will tend to support the likelihood of you achieving positive outcomes from your therapy. Starting weekly, building positive momentum, and then extending the time between sessions at that point, works well too.

And so, hypnotherapy can help you to relieve IBS symptoms and to reduce other issues that can exacerbate your symptoms, such as anxiety and stress. Whilst IBS itself cannot be ‘cured’, the science suggests that hypnotherapy could help you to significantly alleviate symptoms, as well as feeling calmer and happier and boosting your quality of life. If IBS has been dominating your life, these kind of results could give you the relief and freedom you have been craving and that will allow you to live a full and fulfilling life.

There’s more on the effectiveness of hypnotherapy for IBS and the link between anxiety and IBS in these articles:

Hypnotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The Evidence for the Effectiveness Of IBS Hypnosis

Anxiety and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Hypnotherapy For Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Hypnotherapy For Anxiety 

As well as the many wonderful stories of individual success from my clients, there is also scientific evidence to support hypnotherapy for anxiety.

Valentine, Milling, Clark, and Moriarty (2019), brought together the results of all controlled studies of hypnosis for anxiety to quantify the effectiveness of hypnosis in treating anxiety. They found that hypnosis is a highly effective intervention for anxiety, and concluded from the evidence that:

The findings of this meta-analysis show that hypnosis is a highly effective intervention for anxiety. Our results indicate the average participant treated with hypnosis achieved more anxiety reduction than about 79% of control participants at the end of active treatment and about 84% of controls at the longest follow-up“.

This is hugely impressive evidence and really demonstrates the positive impact of hypnotherapy for anxiety. There’s a bit more on that research in this previous article of mine:  The Effectiveness of Hypnotherapy as a Treatment For Anxiety


Help for IBS and Anxiety Disorders 

If you have been struggling with irritable bowel syndrome and anxiety, and you want to explore how hypnotherapy could help you find some relief, then please do get in touch for a chat.

IBS and anxiety often go hand in hand, each able to make the other worse (which then makes both worse). Yet as the evidence above shows, there is hope and it is possible to reduce that anxiety and to get more relief from the pain, discomfort and bloating of IBS.  Rather than feeling controlled and limited, you can start to feel more at ease, happier and more positive in your life.

To your health and happiness,

Dan Regan

Anxiety Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket


Struggling with your IBS and anxiety and need some expert help to overcome your anxiety? Book your Complimentary Hypnotherapy Strategy Session with me now: Appointments

You can discover what many, many other people have said after their anxiety hypnotherapy sessions with Dan: Testimonials

And check out these powerful anxiety hypnosis downloads that can start helping you right away: Anxiety Hypnosis Downloads



Eijsbouts, C., Zheng, T., Kennedy, N.A., Voda, A.I., McVean, G., Holliday, J. and Jostins, L., 2021. Genome-wide analysis of 53,400 people with irritable bowel syndrome highlights shared genetic pathways with mood and anxiety disorders. Nature Genetics.

Hasan, S.S., Pearson, J.S. and Whorwell, P.J., 2019. SKYPE HYPNOTHERAPY FOR IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME: Effectiveness and Comparison with Face-to-Face Treatment. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.

Krouwel, M., Farley, A., Ismail, M.T., Jolly, K. and Greenfield, S., 2021. Systematic review, meta-analysis with subgroup analysis of hypnotherapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, effect of intervention characteristics. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, p.102672.

Tan, G., Hammond, D.C. and Gurrala, J., 2005. Hypnosis and irritable bowel syndrome: a review of efficacy and mechanism of action. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 47(3), pp.161-178.

Valentine, K.E., Milling, L.S., Clark, L.J. and Moriarty, C.L., 2019. The Efficacy of Hypnosis as a Treatment for Anxiety: A Meta-analysis. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 67(3), pp.336-363.

Whitehead, W.E., 2006. Hypnosis for irritable bowel syndrome: the empirical evidence of therapeutic effects. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 54(1), pp.7-20.



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