WHAT ARE FUNCTIONAL GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS?
Your symptoms are not “all in your head”. Whether it’s Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or some form of ongoing, episodic, or chronic digestive issues involving chronic abdominal discomfort/pain, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, acid reflux, regurgitation, and/or gas that you have, your symptoms are real physiological symptoms. Whereas physicians are able to detect and localize dysfunction in the body when it comes to organic problems, functional gastrointestinal problems are typically diagnosed when there is no evidence for organic dysfunction.
Even if you are not able to pinpoint a clear cause for your symptoms, you can heal. It may be extremely disappointing and frustrating to be diagnosed with a functional gastrointestinal problem because there isn’t a medication or surgery that can rid you of your symptoms for good. It is actually good news, though, that your body is structurally sound and free of any life-threatening disease. Your body is capable of functioning normally even if it has not been behaving normally lately.
Your symptoms are not “all in your head”.
Do not be discouraged by the fact that you have tried various treatment modalities that have not resulted in a full recovery. Your body can still heal. I have had both personal experience of recovering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome and very specialized professional experience in working with people who have functional problems of all kinds, especially gastrointestinal problems.
See below the list of the digestive issues with which I’ve had experience treating. If your medical problem is not on the list, do not assume that I cannot help you.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome Chronic Dyspepsia (Abdominal Pain)
- Chronic Constipation
- Cyclic Vomiting
- GERD/Acid Reflux
- Chronic dyspepsia (abdominal pain)
- Crohn’s (not considered a functional problem but has a functional component)
- Colitis (not considered a functional problem but has a functional component)
Even without a diagnosable psychological problem like depression, anxiety, or PTSD, it is important to work with a psychologist as part of your treatment for your functional gastrointestinal problem. It’s important because your nervous system and your digestive system are highly integrated. You have a second brain in your gut, which means that your gut is a hotbed of not just digestive but neural activity. (Learn about the brain in your gut.) You may not have the power to stop your digestive symptoms, but you do have the ability to regulate your nervous system, thereby allowing normal digestion to resume. It’s important to know how and why psychology matters in the healing of the gut.
Psychotherapy is generally recommended to help people with functional gastrointestinal problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) to better cope with and manage their symptoms. These symptoms can put a major dent in your emotional and social life despite your best effort for it not to. Click here to learn more about the difficulty of living with a functional gastrointestinal problem.
I’m a psychologist truly specialized in working with the nervous systems of individuals with functional gastrointestinal problems with the goal of helping you to not just cope with and manage your symptoms but also to heal and make a full recovery. It is possible to make a full recovery. I’m living proof. Click here to read my own personal story of healing and recovering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
By working directly with your nervous system, you will learn exactly how your individual nervous system works and how to regulate it so that your body can settle and heal. This kind of therapy is not known to be a quick-fix, but it is more beneficial to your whole body over the long term. As you heal, you will learn what you need to know about your own body so that in the future you can prevent physiological and psychological problems and facilitate your own healing should you encounter symptoms.
People typically think of working with therapists for emotional problems, not physical problems. By the time people with functional gastrointestinal problems realize that a therapist can be helpful to them, the toll of living with physical problems has led to emotional problems. In the meantime, people will exhaust their resources—time, energy, and money—trying other treatment modalities like medications, herbs, diets, supplements, reading, research, acupuncture, bodywork, energy healing, etc., that may not resolve the symptoms. In my experience, psychotherapy is something people seek to avoid or wait to start until they reach some point of desperation.
If you have a functional medical problem, then consider starting psychotherapy now.