What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms including abdominal pain and changes in the pattern of bowel movements without any evidence of underlying damage. IBS is a disorder in which abdominal pain is associated with a range of symptoms, typically, these include boating, cramps, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and/or constipation. Stress can make symptoms worse. 

What Are the Symptoms of IBS?

People with IBS have symptoms that can include:

  • diarrhoea
  • constipation
  • constipation alternating with diarrhoea
  • belly pains or cramps
  • gas or bloating
  • harder or looser stools than normal
  • distended abdomen

What causes IBS?

 The cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not completely understood, however there are possible factors like genetics and prior adverse life experiences such as infection or trauma that could be the route cause. Symptoms appear to result from disturbances in colonic motility (muscle contractions) and increased sensitivity to food. 

There is a tendency for the bowel to be overly reactive to various factors which can amplify or bring about the symptoms, examples include: eating, stress, emotional arousal, gastrointestinal infections or gaseous distension. The altered patterns of colonic motility and sensation appear to be due to disruptions in the communication between the brain and gut. This interaction is known as the brain-gut axis.

Stress, anxiety and IBS

Disorders such as anxiety, major depression and chronic fatigue syndrome are common among people with IBS, it’s not totally clear how stress, anxiety, and irritable bowel syndrome are related but studies show they can happen together.

The most common mental health condition experienced with irritable bowel syndrome is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).  Regardless of whether they have irritable bowel syndrome, people with anxiety tend to worry greatly about issues such as health, money, or careers, this can lead to other symptoms that include upset stomach, trembling, muscle aches, insomnia, dizziness, and irritability.

Online therapy for IBS

Research suggests that keeping your stress under control can help you prevent or ease IBS symptoms. People with IBS may also experience anxiety specific to their gastrointestinal events or symptoms, for example, fear and anxiety around meals, or when experiencing abdominal pain or diarrhoea. With your online therapist you can learn new ways to manage your  physical symptoms and become aware of how thoughts, emotions and behaviours impact symptoms.  You can also learn relaxation procedures including progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises and simple forms of meditation. 

No-Obligation discussion

Free initial telephone discussion

If you are looking for online therapy please contact Teresa Lewis for a 15 minute no-obligation discussion. Teresa is a BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor and Psychotherapist so she will be able to briefly discuss help in relation to your IBS.  At this time you can decide whether you would like to book an appointment. The discussion is conducted without any obligation to book an appointment.

Make an appointment for online therapy

If you would like to speak to one of our therapists regarding online therapy for IBS please call our Wolverhampton office on 01902 827808.  Alternatively, fill out our online contact form and we will contact you within 24 hours.


Medical disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice by a qualified doctor.