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What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?1

Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS or a functional gastrointestinal disorder, is characterized by a group of symptoms that may include abdominal discomfort or pain, bloating, changes in bowel movement patterns (i.e., diarrhea and constipation).

How common is irritable bowel syndrome?1

The prevalence of IBS is estimated to be between 10% to 15% of the population.

What is CBT treatment for irritable bowel syndrome like?

The CBT therapist starts by educating clients about their diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome and about CBT, helps clients set treatment goals, and teaches clients essential thinking and behavioral skills. For clients diagnosed with IBS, CBT focuses on identifying factors that lead to flare ups and using problem solving to deal with precipitating factors. Treatment also involves developing strategies to manage stress (which can exacerbate symptoms), learning relaxation techniques, and evaluating beliefs about having IBS. CBT therapists often help clients draw links between precipitating events and a downward spiral of cognitions, emotions, and bodily symptoms that both prompt and reinforce IBS flare-ups.

1National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2013). Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Retrieved here.