Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Treatments


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Stress and Anxiety

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common gastrointestinal disorder affecting approximately 1 in 5 Australians.

If you would like  help  to reduce the impact of IBS on your life,  call 0429 883671 to make an appointment  with a clinical psychologist  in Hawthorn, Victoria.


  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Diarrhoea and/or constipation
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Mucous present in the faeces
  • Nausea


Psychological Disorders Associated With IBS

  • Panic Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Dysthymia
  • Depression


Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers may benefit from psychological treatment and stress management as several studies have shown that 70-90% of sufferers who seek treatment have psychological disorders1


The relationship between IBS and stress and anxiety is not clearly understood.

Stress/anxiety may make the mind more aware of colon spasms. Irritable bowel may be triggered by the immune system, which is influenced by stress.

Stress management can alleviate and help prevent IBS symptoms. Psychologists can teach you techniques including slow breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, visualization etc.


Catherine Madigan, a Melbourne based irritable bowel psychologist, offers treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. For an appointment call (03) 98193671 or 0429 88 3671.


Who gets Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Women are more likely than men to have the condition.

What causes IBS?

The cause is not well understood. Although no single factor may cause IBS, an interaction of factors may lead to its development and maintenance.

  • Altered pain perception
  • Gut reactivity
  • Dysregulation of the brain gut axis
  • Genetic predisposition- an inherited vulnerability
  • Stressful events prior to the onset of IBS ( e.g. severe physical or sexual abuse)
  • Ongoing stress- stress aggravates the condition
  • Immune dysfunction


What other physical disorders do sufferers tend to have?

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Myofascial disorders
  • Migraine
  • Non-cardiac chest pain
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Chronic pelvic pain 3


Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment Options

If you believe you are suffering from IBS , it is important to consult a doctor. Do not self diagnose as there are other illnesses with similar symptoms. Your doctor can organise various tests and investigations to help ensure a correct diagnosis and appropriate management of your condition.

Cognitive Behavioural Treatment and IBS

Cognitive behavioural therapy ( CBT) is used in the management of IBS and may be provided by an irritable bowel psychologist. If you live in Australia you can discuss with your doctor whether you are eligible for a mental health care plan which entitles you to a Medicare rebate for up to 10 sessions of psychological therapy per year.


Catherine Madigan, a Melbourne  clinical psychologist, offers treatment for IBS sufferers. For an appointment call 03 9819 3671 or 0429 88 3671


IBS Appropriate Diet

People with IBS are advised to consult their doctor and/or a dietician re an appropriate diet tailored to their specific symptoms. When excluding foods from one’s diet, one has to ensure that one still gets all the nutrients required for good health.

People experiencing flatulence are advised to decrease or eliminate cabbage, caulfilower, broccoli and beans. People who are lactose intolerant may try reducing or eliminating milk and dairy foods from their diet. Increasing soluble dietary fibre ( e.g. some green vegetables, oats) and fluid intake may help people who suffer from constipation. Caffeinated drinks, including coffee and carbonated soft drinks, may aggravate irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.


Tricyclic antidepressants may be used to treat the pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome. Immodium or Lomotil may be used treat people who have diarrhoea. Pain killers such as codeine may be used to provide pain relief. Antispasmodic drugs may alleviate cramps.



  1. Garakani A, Win T, Virk S, Gupta S. Kaplan D, Masand PS Comorbidity of IBS in psychiatric patients : a review. American Journal of Therapy 2003 Jan-Feb : 10 (01): 61-67
  2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome in the General Population: epidemilogy. comorbidity and societal costs Markku Hillila 2010.
  3.  Disorders Which Frequently Overlap with irritable bowel syndrome: Can a Shared Neurobiology Explain their frequent association Goddard, E.r., Barth,K.S. D.O., Lydiard, R.B. primary Psychuiatry 2007; 14(4): 69-73

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