Our specialized psychologist has a clinical interest in integrating effective psychological care to the treatment of digestive disorders.
Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
Functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) are disorders with real gastrointestinal symptoms but no physical abnormalities that your gastroenterologist can detect. The most common FGIDs are Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Functional Dyspepsia.
There are several reasons why seeing a psychologist can help you:
- Stress and psychological/emotional distress (such as depression and anxiety) can worsen your gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Traumatic life experiences such as sexual or physical abuse are associated with an increased prevalence of IBS and other FGIDs.
- Comorbid psychiatric disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and major depression are highly prevalent in patients with FGIDs.
- The brain-gut axis: our brain exerts a powerful influence over gastrointestinal pain perception, motility and secretion. Conversely, gastrointestinal symptoms also impact patients’ mood and stress levels as well as pain perception.
Role of a Psychologist
As gastrointestinal symptoms are closely linked with psychological factors as outlined above, your psychologist can help you to learn to better manage your emotions, process traumatic life experiences, make lifestyle changes, strengthen coping mechanisms and build resilience.
Depending on the patient’s background history and formulation (gathered during the initial assessment phase of treatment), your psychologist will first work with you to find out your therapy goals and collaboratively work out the most suitable psychological treatment plan that is individualized to you.
Eating disorders are mental health conditions that are characterized by extreme variations from safe and healthy eating habits. Eating extremely small amounts of food, severely overeating, or excessive purging may be signs of an eating disorder. The three most common types of eating disorders are:
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Binge-Eating Disorder.
Eating disorders are serious, complex, and potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person’s physical and emotional health, productivity and relationships.
Some known impacts on the gastrointestinal system:
- Heartburn or bloating
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Significant nutritional deficiency
- Slowed digestion (also known as gastroparesis)
- IBS and constipation
- Binge eating can cause acute gastric dilatation and gastric perforation (rupture), which is potentially life-threatening.
- Frequent vomiting (purging) can wear down the esophagus and cause it to rupture, creating a life-threatening emergency.
Role of a Psychologist
Psychological factors, such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, negative body image, feelings of inadequacy, or lack of control in life, can contribute to the development, maintenance and/or worsening of eating disorders. Your psychologist can help you identify and work through these challenges and develop healthier eating habits.