Hi 👋🏼

Has anyone experienced IBS symptoms during moments of stress or anxiety. My biggest struggle is anticipation of becoming ill whenever I have to do something and this causes me to become unwell, this started as worrying about exams or interviews and for the past 5 years triggers as small as going to the shop or going to work will trigger a physical response from the IBS. I end up being unwell before I have to leave and then taking loperamide to try and stop everything so I can carry on with the illusion that I’m able to live a normal life.

During this time my blood pressure and pulse is normal and my actual thoughts are extremely relaxed and as I’m not fed up I don’t even feel that stressed when it happens if anything it just makes me feel bad about myself. I feel that it’s a part of the brain that I cannot control.

My gastroenterologist has told me from a medical point of view there is nothing else for me to try. I take amitriptaline every night and loperamide when needed. The doctor is unable to refer me to look at the psychological triggers which have become the biggest part of the suffering.

Has anyone had hypnosis/cbt/psychiatry or any other help for issues such as this. I’m not sure which route to try and with a limited budget I can’t afford to try all.

Any suggestions welcome 🙏🏻

39 Replies

  • There are some very simple low or no-cost tools you could try first:

    These will help you to become aware of your triggers and take the stress down a few notches.

    Hypotherapy can be great, especially if you know what your trigger is. You usually need a few sessions.

    CBT can be very effective too. I believe you can get that free on the national health in the UK.


  • Thank you for your reply. I feel as if I am in crisis as it’s out of control. I will look at those links and also look into hypnotherapy abit more as I am totally aware of triggers just unable to change the physical response!

    Unfortunately I do not live on the mainland and can not access through NHS I am on island with hardly any choice!


  • I have exactly the same problems as you with IBS. I recently tried CBT and, personally, didn’t get anything out of it at all - which is a shame. My therapist kept trying to get me “exposed” to situations - but all encounter and get involved in all situations - I don’t avoid anything really. I just struggle through most things feeling uncomfortable and wanting to be near a toilet :-( It is all so miserable. I have also had hypnotherapy before - for something slightly different. It was good but cost £80 per session!! Def not sustainable. Do you have IBS-D?

  • This is what a feared, there really are no other options but to just struggle on. Yes usually IBS-D which is I find humiliating to have to tell friends or always make excuses last minute before I’m meant to be somewhere. Over the past couple of years I’ve pretty much left all my friends and even had to change my job so my mind can relax as there is a toilet at my new job and no one who’s going to see me going in it! I pretty much binge on Imodium once or twice a week, walk around with cramping after this and then back to square one when I need to go somewhere. I don’t avoid anything in fact I’m actually trying to push myself to do more but this is upsetting me as I can’t stop my body from reacting so badly about it.

    Have you tried any other routes? I followed the FODMAP diet religiously and it is amazing and t really helps but the second I have to go somewhere very public or on a plane or even to town my brain takes over.

  • The brain!!! Isn’t it so so so bizarre?? I always say to my boyfriend the same as you originally said “I don’t feel stressed so how can I stop this??”! Our brains must just be programmed to recognise certain things we do as being a threat and then automatically shifting into gear. I have no idea how we can control that. I am going to try mindfulness as I have heard that is good (you never know unless you try)!

    In terms of diet - I don’t really find any foods cause a major problem. I went gluten free for a month and it made no difference. I never really see a pattern in what I eat and a bad reaction after.

    Do you find Imodium takes ages to work?? I almost think its worth taking the day before a planned thing to do (I know that isn’t always practical) as it seems to be day 2 where they are most effective!! Hope your doctor prescribes you a large amount in one go? I can access 120 at once x

  • I’ve not been prescribed anything apart from the amitriptaline so it costs me a fortune taking buscopan and Imodium. The first time I ever took them they worked so well but for the past few years I don’t take them one by one. After visiting the bathroom twice I know what’s about to happen I just take six in one go so that’s 12mg of the instants and you’re right they don’t work right away the next day is better but they cause such terrible stomach cramping.

    My gastroenterologist suggest instead of taking 6 once a week take 1 a day even if you don’t need to, I tried this and bowel movement wise it works but I cannot walk in the pain they cause! Do you ever feel this pain?

    Before a meal out or a party I have the same routine, toilet toilet toilet and Imodium before I leave the only thing that actually stops it and makes me feel normal is a glass of wine which is worrying because it’s all I want when I’m not well anticipating leaving the house and you cannot drink a glass of wine three times a day daily just to live more comfortably!

    I’ve read different books for anxiety such as the chimp paradox, it’s very very good for understanding the irrational brain but when these episodes happen I’m so calm because I am soooooo over it, it doesn’t panic me anymore it just makes me think f*** sake! And I’ve decided this isn’t anxiety it’s something more complex and I’m on a mission to find out how to change it!

  • Here’s a good was to look at it - if CBT is free here but you can’t access it - maybe you aren’t missing much? Although, saying that, I know some people have found it good. I found it patronising.

    We are good to keep trying!! One important thing I do is if I have a bad experience I make sure I go back to the place it happened (only if its like my regular supermarket or something) to show myself I can “do it” again without incident. That helps the brain re-programmea bit I think.

    Try and get a prescriptionfor Imodium because at least that is one less stress - having a big batch in stock. I never found Buscopan worked :-( Glad it works (a bit) for you.

    Funnily enough, I was going to mention the wine thing!! Ha ha. Totally agree. I do the same - although try to limit it to one drink before a party or event/dinner. I wouldn’t have wine before running errands or something. I believe they call this “pre-drinking”. Hee hee. I am currently doing Go Sober for October which is going really well but, interestingly, hasn’t made my tummy any better. How many Amytriptaline do you take? I have just increased my dose to 2 per evening (only started that yesterday). My doc also suggested 1 Imodium per day. I will try that in a month or so. Strangely, I never really get any pain (sorry to hear you do) :-( xx

  • You’re brave doing go sober, that pre drink glass of wine is my only hope!

    I’m not sure if the buscopan helps if I’m honest, I usually take it with Imodium and paracetamol/codiene all in one go as I reach for my bag and take everything to try and become human again ASAP! This pain thing is recent with the Imodium the GI said it’s because I’m shutting my bowel down too often and really wants me to just take one a day.

    I will go to my GP at some point and ask for them on prescription it’s just that it’s £50 for a 10 min GP visit and talking about it and feeling desperate makes me get all sad and silly so I waste the time slot!

    I take 50mg a night (amitriptyline) which have also helped me fall asleep but my word I’m getting up to some weird stuff in my sleep. I downloaded sleep talk recorder on my phone after I woke up in a different room in different clothes! I’ve googled it and I think it can make you sleep talk/walk I’m in a way not telling the doctors this side effect because I’ll feel completely stuck if they take me off of it! I am also thinking it may be stress causing the sleep things but it’s hard to tell as I started taking them around the same time I feel more stressed!

    I like the idea of going back to he same place, where I live is 9 miles by 5 so I always go to the same place but I will now recognise where I am and how I am to try and retrain the brain.

    To be honest I don’t think CBT would suit me either I’m far to aware of what is happening and able to talk about it.

    I wish movie style hypnosis was around and someone would say ‘you won’t get IBS-D before going places or meeting people ever again’ click their fingers and were cured! Xx

  • Blimey! Where do you live? What a shame it costs so much to see a GP! It is nice to talk to someone who understands. It can make you feel a bit crazy eh?

    Wow, your story of sleep walking made me chuckle!!! :-p Bless you!!!

    Yesterday I had an endoscopy. It was horrible. Have you had all that (cameras up the bottom etc)? X

  • I live in Jersey so everything is over priced and over populated! Where are you?

    Yes this is the first time I’ve told someone how I feel who feels the same and doesn’t think I’m nuts!

    I’ve had a colonoscopy and had a few polyps removed which I didn’t expect, I’m 23. And I’ve had a capsule endoscopy so it was less traumatic, all the other blood tests etc to rule out chrons or colitis basically, my dad has chrons and had 10 meters of bowel out last year after constant flare ups of diviticulitis and ended up with a ileostomy bag for a while, seeing him like that made me feel doomed genetically. He actually lives a more normal life than me, never has to take Imodium or anything. I was convinced for me it must be something more than IBS but it’s not it’s standard IBS and a brain that will not be tamed!

    Have you had other things ruled out or is anything else happening?? Xx

  • So you can't access NHS in jersey? I found my counsellor through has really helped Work through issues including IBS. Used to see her alternate weeks but now catch up once a month nice to have someone to offload too! X

  • No sadly no NHS, i can access counselling but theres usually between 16 and 24 week wait and i'm 'low risk' so would be encouraged to pay for myself. Also very awkward as i work in care, particularly mental health care and i'm worried everyone will find out!

  • Don't worry we can't care for others if we don't take care of ourselves. I work in care too but employers have been understanding I know not everyone is though. I couldn't handle the NHS wait and went private best thing I've done though x

  • Hi my IBS is linked to anxiety and this is a viscious circle. I have been having counselling and I meditate and find these work. There are also lots of self help books around can recommend Anxiety Panicking about Panic by Justin Fletcher it covers IBS. You can get on top of it and make it more manageable by taking an holistic approach. Are you following low FODMAP too? X

  • I did the FODMAP found I’m sensitive to oligos but with or without them if I need to go out somewhere I’m ill until Imodium kicks in. So now I’m just eating what I like and enjoying it, (living without onion and garlic for three months was in unbearable) are you??

    It’s completely a viscous circle because the more times something happens the more the brain stores it and adds to any subconscious anxieties which makes me more ill and dread more things as I know it’ll make me ill having to go.

    I used to feel anxious but I have to say I don’t anymore I’m a lot more numb because I’m so fed up. I also suffer from migraines so take 80mg of propanalol daily which also knocked any final anxiety’s on the head. I’ve got so many books to read and have wanted to try meditation but I just can’t find silence in my head! Xx

  • I follow FODMAP it seems to help but mainly have issues with the anxiety so Imodium is also my friend!! I have also noticed I can't eat large heavy meals my stomach gives up trying to digest it! I take Super20 Pro from healthspan so far it's ok but have only been using for 2 months. I also take a digestive enzyme after evening meal. X

  • I have an audiobook which is an 8 week Mindfullness meditation programme. It helps you to get into regular meditation. I also watch YouTube vids. I mainly do this before going to sleep it helps sort out any crap from my day! But can be too tired some nights. X

  • Also have you tried mebeverine? Would also recommend taking a probiotic for overall health x

  • Hello - did you find meberverine worked? I tried it for a while but it wasn’t great. That book recommendation is helpful. Thanks x

  • It seems to work - I do notice if I miss one x

  • I’ve tried mebeverine and didn’t feel benefits but didn’t feel worse, I take super 50 from healthspan last thing at night. Which one do you take? X

  • Hi, my stomach issues started a few years ago whilst experiencing extreme anxiety after being very poorly with PID. Not being able to look after myself or my family I lost my mind and was in my own world of anxiety and constantly in fight or flight mode. My GP was very unsympathetic and wanted to throw antidepressants down my neck so I turned to Chinese medicine and done a course of acupuncture for the best part of 6 months. I couldn't recommend it enough, within 24 hours I felt human again, I still go for well being from time to time. Be warned it is expensive, but I believe the best money I have ever spent.

    This seemed to cure my anxiety which had a brilliant effect on my stomach. I was an all round calmer happier person.

    After a tummy bug and a course of antibiotics thr IBS has returned but luckily without the anxiety thrown. Probiotics seem to make things worse so does silicol. After the normal tests I've just been put in mebravine and can't say I've noticed any benefits. Im just looking into eliminating the normal yeast and wheat from diet but there never seems a good time to start, there's always an excuse to pig out.

    I hope you find a fix for your anxiety, I'm a true believer in alternative therapy now. Good Luck x

  • That’s very interesting I have been given the number of a lady who specialises in Chinese medicine but it’s £150 for each appointment so perhaps I’ll save up a bit and give it a go! Hope your symptoms improve, thanks for your message! X

  • I know exactly how you feel. It isn’t often I can honestly say, that, but as you know, unless you are an IBS sufferer it’s hard to understand. I was so fed up I just had an endoscopy and colonoscopy because I truly believed I had something really wrong with me. The tests, and the doctor took 5 biopsies all came back negative. No crohns, no colitis, no bacterial growth. Now, the normal person would be happy about this, I was not. If nothings wrong, why can’t I leave the house without having to go through the bathroom rituals 3 or 4 times before I leave. Then when I get to my destination I usually go again. Sometimes I just don’t eat, then I half at least a chance. I can’t go in group activities that are more than 1/2 hour away from any restroom. I just want to be normal, and be able to go out to lunch and a movie with my friends. People have stopped inviting me. I have a bevy of medicines in my cabinet, but nothing works. If it wasn’t for the good days every once in awhile I’m not sure what I’d do......

  • This is so accurate I truly have the same life! At the moment I’m forcing myself to go and do things and say yes to the occasional invite, in turn I’m taking more Imodium and feeling worse as a person but at least I’m not sat in bed listening to my bowels grumbling and feeling too sorry for myself! Hope you feel better soon and get more good days x

  • I am exactly the same as you - and it is horrible!! Poor you. I wish there was something the medical professionals could do! It is so interesting that different foods affect people differently! People who have never experienced this won’t really understand. I am sure, to many “Normal” people they wouldn’t keep going as we do if they had a bad tummy. To them it would be a one-off and render them “poorly” and they would be off sick from work, etc. I think we are all actually much stronger than we give ourselves credit for though. We keep going - despite all the hurdles and difficulties we experience. X

  • I’m so sad we have to deal with this, too. I recently quit my office job. Looking for something to do from home.

  • I have recently had enough of pretending I was fine and work (also an office job) and so I am making it better known at work now that I am suffering. I had hoped that would make a big difference but it hasn’t really. If people know or don’t know - we are still the ones having to keep going to the bloody loo :-( Hope you find a suitable job soon x

  • That is so true. My horror were meetings. Sitting through one of those on a normal day is bad, on a bad day it called for a Xanax. If you don’t live don’t get it...

  • Meetings!!! Omg. Awful. And the thing for me is - if I go once, I often need to go again soon after. I can’t face going in and out of a meeting all the time!!! X

  • OMG..same way.

  • In October I have to do this intense work course which is 8:30 to 6:30pm every day for 5 days. Totally dreadingit. X

  • Oh man. Sometimes it works out different than we think. Most of the time, I am my own worse enemy, I can completely psyche myself into a meltdown. I’m sure you will be fine. Let me know how you did ok?

  • I am just the same it s a relief to read that other people are going through the same I have IBS D and have Divilutics sorry cant spell it. I had a course of CBT on the NHS but cannot say it has done a lot of good. I now find that Imodium dos nt work for very long. I find I still have bouts of D a few hours after. As for going out anywhere I am in the toilet on and off my husband dose not understand then I suppose its understandable as we don t understand it either. It s getting to be a nightmare would love to just be able to go out without worrying about needing toilet etc. I am just trying Silicon get again I tried it once but did nt last very long will try again and hope for better results.

  • I’m so sorry, I completely understand. It’s been years and I still have to remind my husband, if I say we have to leave (church, party, etc.) we have to leave... he still needs reminding. Again, I say, you don’t Live it, you don’t get it...Right?

  • I would go a natural route I have had IBS nervous stomach since I think 5 yrs old is when the nervous stomach started. I am now 61! When I would get up set or nervous I would get IBS D. I never got on doctors meds as I usually have a reaction to them intolerance if you will. I finally went to. Kinesiologist who did muscle testing and found a bunch of foods that I can’t have, allergic or intolerant to. That helped to eliminate them from my system. Then she put me on inulation it’s a powder (prebiotic) then body biotics ( pro biotic) Sea aloe which is a whole food vitiamin. I also take allegany digestive enzymes to help with the bloating Etc. Now I take glutamine which helps regulate and stabilize the gut and Moducare it help blalance out your immune system as with IBS we are all out of whack inside so we easily catch ever thing going around. I take B12 for my nervous system and it helps with the nervous stomach part of IBS. This all has helped me tremendously have my IBS manageable. Doctors tend to cover up a problem not solve it for me I am so backwards from everyone else it seems. I finally found other people out there like me and want to share my success story on how you can over come and handle IBS naturally and live with it where it’s not controlling you.

  • This is an interesting piece about 'gut brain' which explains what is going on when your head is OK but your gut is not.

  • Very interesting!

  • I think in extreme stress or shock cases sickness and diarrhea could be a possible scenario, but I find with most people that suffer ongoing discomfort everyone looks for reasons. I'm sure stress makes things worse, but I feel there must be an underlying cause in first place. Allergies to food, drink, over weight etc, colon, bowel problems etc. Keep pushing the health system to explore every avenue. Ido wonder whether over time your body gets use to some of the medication, do it doesn't work so good, so perhaps try alternative medicine ..... I've mentioned Silicol Gel which is a more natural product and if taken properly is very good at calming tummy problems.

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