In March 2017, Dr. Sarah Kinsinger PhD, ABPP, the director of behavioral medicine for the digestive health program at Loyola University announced that their studies showed gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease, IBS, ulcerative colitis, and others are responding well to treatment administered by health psychologists who work in conjunction with gastroenterologists.
The stress cycle
Health psychology is a specialty area that focuses on how biological, social, and psychological factors influence health and illness, and health psychologists strive to help individuals cope with chronic conditions. The gastroenterologists at Digestive Care Physicians know that behavioral treatment, which provides the patient with invaluable coping strategies to reduce the stress and minimize discomfort, can help end the cycle of worry and stress caused by the unpredictable discomfort and distress of gastrointestinal afflictions.
The brain-gut axis
Health psychologists understand the system of biochemical signaling between the brain and the GI tract which they call the brain-gut axis. These doctors employ a wide range of treatments including cognitive-behavioral therapy, health education, behavioral relaxation techniques such as “belly breathing,” and even hypnotherapy to decrease stress and improve the patient’s wellbeing.
Relief after 5-7 sessions
Doctors at Loyola saw improvement after providing 5-7 sessions, usually covered by insurance, for their patients. It’s important to note that therapy does not cure the chronic illness, but it can relieve the severity of an attack and teach patients how to cope with future flare-ups. They advocate using health psychology sessions in conjunction with medication.
Discuss it openly with your doctor
At your appointment with Digestive Care Physicians, share your concerns openly with your doctor. He or she will review your records and perhaps suggest a health psychologist or other mental health professional to help you with that all-important mind-body connection. Selecting the right doctor is crucial. It’s imperative to connect with a doctor who fully understands your condition and the various drug therapies used to treat it. The doctors at Digestive Care Physicians can guide you to a specialist and work with him or her to take your treatment to the highest level.
Sometimes patients find it is also helpful to connect with a support group or join on-line communities. The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation provides information about support groups and educational opportunities in your state.
A valuable tool
Therapy with a health psychologist could bring you the knowledge and tools you need to minimize the uncomfortable symptoms of Crohn’s or other gastrointestinal disorders. Your doctor and a therapist will work together as a team to provide the latest health care best practices when it comes to Crohn’s and other gastrointestinal disorders.
If live in Johns Creek, Cumming, Alpharetta, or Lawrenceville, and you are looking for a group of specialists with top-notch education and training and a wonderful rapport with their patients, call Digestive Care Physicians today.