CBT is an umbrella term for a number of different therapies, each of which is based on the idea that thoughts, feelings, physiology, and behavior are interrelated.
Treatments are designed to help people develop alternative ways of thinking and behaving with the goal of reducing psychological distress and physiological arousal.
The researchers speculate that the greater improvement observed in patients who received CBT may be due to the fact that treatments often incorporate “exposure:” a technique in which individuals gradually expose themselves to uncomfortable situations.
For someone with IBS, this could include long road trips, eating out at restaurants, and going places where bathrooms are not readily accessible.
“Encouraging individuals to gradually confront such situations may increase their ability to participate in a wider range of activities,” says Laird, first author of the study published in the Clinical Psychology Review.
“But more research is needed before we can say why CBT appears more effective for improving functioning in IBS compared to other therapy types.”