Are antidepressants effective in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Updated: Dec 11, 2019
  • Author: Jenifer K Lehrer, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

Ford et al reached similar conclusions regarding the use of psychological interventions in irritable bowel syndrome. The authors concluded that antidepressants are effective in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, but although the available data suggest that psychological therapies may be of comparable efficacy, there is less high-quality evidence for the routine use of psychological therapies in patients with IBS. They performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials in adults with IBS; however, their selection criteria included trials comparing antidepressants with placebo as well as those comparing psychological therapies with control therapy or usual care. The investigators noted that the quality of studies were generally good for those involving antidepressants but poor for those involving psychological therapy. [50]

A Cochrane systematic review determined that antidepressants improved both irritable bowel symptoms and global assessment scores compared with placebo. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants were both shown to be effective in subgroup analyses. [33]


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