CBT Shows Promise for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Article excerpt

VIENNA -- Irritable bowel syndrome can be conceptualized as an anxiety disorder--and, as such, responsive to cognitive-behavioral therapy, according to Dr. Sergej Andreewitch.

"Core symptomatology of IBS is clearly physiological, but the cause of suffering and severe loss of function affecting many patients is better accounted for by the catastrophizing appraisal of symptoms and the related avoidance behavior," Dr. Andreewitch said at the annual congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

A program of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) targeting the negative evaluation of GI symptoms and resultant dysfunctional avoidance behaviors associated with IBS brought substantial improvement to participants in his pilot study. Next, Dr. Andreewitch, who is affiliated with the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, plans to develop the treatment program into an Internet-based intervention.

He reported on 13 consecutive women with a mean age of 32 years and an 11.5-year history of IBS who had been referred for CBT from Stockholm-area GI clinics. The treatment program involved a 2-hour session weekly for 10 weeks, with four or five patients per group. The therapeutic strategy was modeled on well-established CBT programs for a variety of anxiety disorders. …