Anxiety and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) have been found to share a symbiotic relationship, in many cases, but not all. That means that if you have anxiety, it could be connected to your IBS, and if you have IBS, it could be connected to your anxiety.
The gut contains a complex concentration of nerve tissue and because of this, it is classified as a second brain. Sam goes for the heart, which also houses its own nervous system. But back to the gut… The vagus nerve also runs through the gut (and the heart, lungs, and so forth). The vagus nerve is the body’s own calming system. It is also the main component of the parasympathetic nervous system, which digestive function, as well as immune system responses and heart rate. Because of this, many scientists agree that the vagus nerve influences the gut and the brain when it comes to inflammation. What is IBS but inflammation?
Hypnotherapy, Anxiety and IBS
In hypnotherapy, gut directed hypnosis has been around for 40 years or so, as explored in a previous post. So I want to look at a specific case where hypnotherapy has assisted one of my clients with IBS to get her calm.
Celina had a childhood tainted with hostility and sexual abuse. She developed a victim mentality as she grew into adulthood. In a strange way, this mentality gave her strength. In accordance with her view of the world, she had also experienced other situations which made her feel like a victim, over the years.
When she came in, she cited sexual abuse as being the probable cause behind her anxiety and her gut issues. Her anxiety showed itself through shortness of breath, negative looping thoughts, tightness in the chest and other typical symptoms. Her IBS resulted in uncontrollable bowel motions. It had only become apparent in the past few years.
It seemed likely to me that Celina’s IBS was a result of her anxiety, and so we addressed the anxiety as a priority, rather than focusing on gut directed hypnosis. Gut directed hypnosis essentially tells the body to calm down in a more specific way, focusing on the physical aspects of the inflammation itself. This would have been my plan for our second session together, but Celina was only committing to the one session.
It seemed to me that her anxiety had preceded her gut issues for many years, and by calming down her nervous system generally would yield better results because it would address the emotional as well as the physical system. If I had more time, I would have also worked from the physical angle of the gut, backwards, as mentioned, into the emotional zone. However, part of this session included an anxiety technique which is centred on the somatic characteristics of anxiety in any case.
Because this was a once off session, it is not realistic to expect that Celia’s gut issues would be manageable. She would have needed three sessions. However, she reported that she felt calm, at the end of our session, and this was not an easy thing for her to achieve.
It is interesting too that through the age regression work that we did, her sexual abuse was never mentioned. Instead we travelled back to her state in the womb, where she felt that helpless feeling for the first time, and she related it to her genetic history, specifically her father. So, her subconscious mind had recognised her father’s influence in her life as the cause of this helpless feeling that characterised her gut issues and her anxiety. We resolved that dilemma, and carried Celina through to the present and into the future, feeling calm.
If you need help with gut issues, anxiety or other psychologically caused conditions, get in touch. Horizons Clinical Hypnotherapy Sunshine Coast.