A great letter from a former patient.
“In the third grade I remember complaining constantly about having stomach aches and was actually put on anti-anxiety medication. I have struggled with this throughout my 52 years.
Things really got bad about 6 years ago when I started having severe stomach aches along with bloating and large, really smelly bowel movements.
After having every test known to man, with no serious problems found, I was diagnosed with IBS. I started feeling depressed, withdrawn, tired and sick ALL THE TIME.
A friend told me I should go to the IBS Treatment Center. I called the next day and made an appointment. One of the best decisions I have ever made! Thank you, I LOVE YOU!!!!”
– Susan Weir (former patient of the IBS Treatment Center)
Most physicians are trained to think of IBS as stress induced or as a type of psychosomatic disorder.
There has not been an easy medication cure for IBS, therefore it has been framed in a way that suggests that it is more your problem than the physicians. Although some cases of IBS are no doubt related to mental or emotional issues, and stress and anxiety can aggravate IBS (as well as most other medical conditions), they are not the predominant causes of IBS. More often, IBS causes you stress rather than the other way around.
One excellent recent example of this is stomach ulcers. While stomach ulcers were once thought to be a stress-induced disorder, it is now well accepted that the bacteria Helicobacter pylori cause them, and that they are treatable. Interestingly H. pylori can also cause IBS symptoms, and now that we can test for it and treat it, there is one more reason to believe that stress is too often blamed.
It’s true that stress can make the symptoms of IBS worse, and that your digestive system depends on relaxation to function properly. Occasionally stress is the sole cause of IBS. But far more often it is due to something else. If you still have symptoms when you know that there isn’t much stress, then there is more to the problem than stress!
Dr. Wangen is the founder and medical director of the IBS Treatment Center, the award winning author of two books, and a nationally recognized speaker on digestive disorders. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio, and was named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.