Almost all functions of the gastrointestinal tract have been shown to be under central nervous control and to respond to environmental factors such as stress. It is, therefore, not surprising that disturbed gastrointestinal functions may be altered through psychological therapy approaches. For motor dysfunctions of the esophagus and functional dyspepsia, there is a lack of behavioral therapy studies, while controlled studies utilizing relaxation techniques, stress management strategies and anxiety treatment have been shown to improve symptoms and prevent recurrence in reflux esophagitis and peptic ulcer disease despite the wide use of effective medication. Most studies have treated patients with symptoms of the irritable bowel syndrome: This approach usually combined conventional medical treatment with psychotherapy. Psychological management usually consisted of relaxation training, stress management and patient information. Additional behavioral modification, e.g. of eating and defecation behavior, is superior to pharmacological and dietary management alone. The role of biofeedback therapy in these patients remains to be clarified in the future. It is, however, therapy of choice in some patients with constipation due to spastic pelvic floor syndrome and in fecal incontinence, if the external anal sphincter is insufficient to maintain continence. There ist a systematic lack of treatment opportunities as compared to the number of patients seeking health care for functional bowel disorders.
Useful keywords (using NLM MeSH Indexing)
Colonic Diseases, Functional/therapy