Video: Antidepressants for IBS?
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The use of the antidepressant drug class in low doses for treatment of IBS symptoms is not linked to depression, but rather likely to effects on the brain and the gut. Antidepressant medications can reduce the intensity of pain signals going from gut to brain.
When symptoms are more painful and impact on health related qualify of life low-dose tricyclic antidepressants may help. They have been shown to be effective in treating IBS, particularly in those with mainly diarrhea. They act on the brain and the gut in ways that can relieve abdominal pain and reduce diarrhea. Examples include amitryptyline and desipramine.
Some of the newer serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) have fewer side effects than tricyclics. But they are not yet proven helpful for IBS symptoms.
At times selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help reduce anxiety associated with IBS and can help reduce symptoms of constipation. Examples include fluoxetine and paroxetine.
Be aware that the effectiveness of various agents differs between individuals. Your use of these medications must be carefully chosen by you and your physician.
Source: Lembo T and Rink R. Current Pharmacologic Treatments of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IFFGD Fact Sheet No. 168.