I’ve heard people talk about coping mechanisms for IBS. What exactly are they referring to?
Dr. Jedel: There are a number of effective coping mechanisms (or techniques) for people with IBS. A lot of these techniques are easy to learn, especially with the assistance of a psychologist. Many patients find that these techniques actually reduce their symptoms, while others indicate that the techniques help them cope with severe pain and other IBS symptoms. A range of relaxation techniques, such as guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, and diaphragmatic breathing, can be extremely useful for coping with IBS. Another helpful coping technique involves the modification of negative, or maladaptive, thoughts and perceptions that are associated with IBS. Most patients do not realize the major impact that their thoughts have on triggering and/or exacerbating their symptoms. Psychologists are skilled in helping patients modify these maladaptive thoughts, which subsequently improves their capacity to cope.