Why Take an Antidepressant to Treat IBS?

A small study suggests that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants can help those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Serotonin plays an important role in gastrointestinal tract activity, and SSRIs are often used to treat IBS, although there is still little evidence for the effectiveness that use of the drugs.

Researchers looked at the effect of citalopram (Celexa) at 20 and 40 mgs on 23 patients, none of whom were suffering from depression, over the course of two six-week periods separated by a three-week gap.

Citalopram alleviated several IBS symptoms, including abdominal pain and bloating, as well as improving a patient's "overall well being."

Since changes in mood did not correlate with IBS symptom improvement, citalopram's ability to alleviate IBS is apparently seems unrelated to its effect on depression.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Did you ever wonder why the medical news always seems to be filled with stories of new and exotic uses for old, toxic drugs? Drugs like antidepressants, in spite of their side effects -- which can include gastrointestinal bleeding, not exactly ideal if you're seeking to treat IBS.

With antidepressants the challenge to understand if indeed the work is really a major problem.  Believe me I am no stranger to prescribing antidepressants. In the 80s I used to be one of their major promoters. I had studied depression extensively and was convinced it was one of the most pervasive and undertreated problems in the population.

In the 80s I was still entrenched in the drug model and I must have put well over 2,000 people on antidepressants, and many did improve.  Nearly everyone equates this improvement with the drug.

What I later learned is that it is not so much the drug as the belief in the physician and the patient that the drug will work. When one examines the effectiveness of antidepressants they simply are not significantly different than placebos.

Placebos, however, cost much less than antidepressants and are far less likely to cause dangerous side effects.

For the last several years we have known that antidepressants significantly increase the risk of suicide in children. A year-old FDA mandate slapped a stronger warning label on citalopram, along with 9 other SSRIs, citing grave concerns about deepening depression and an elevated risk of suicide.

These drugs have also been associated with violent behavior, which would likely trigger the prescription yet additional psychotropic medications.

To battle IBS, it is important to focus on what you are eating and how you are living. A few steps could get you and your intestines back on track. Some safer ways to treat IBS without a toxic SSRI:

  • Make better food choices. Pay careful attention to removing grains and sugars, as they typically feed bad bacteria, and gluten in particular can cause serious intestinal inflammation in many individuals.


  • Avoiding common allergens, like wheat and dairy are simple measures that improve IBS in many.
      • If you have problems with the frequency of your bowel movements, please consider purchasing some organic flax seeds and grinding 2 to 6 tablespoons fresh in a coffee grinder. Flax has water soluble fibers like lignans that will decrease diarrhea or improve constipation as these types of fibers are bowel movement normalizers. Freshly ground flax seed is a far better option than psyllium or Metamucil.


      • Eating for your nutritional type will get your body to operate at its optimum level.


      • Add some high quality probiotics to help normalize your intestinal flora. There are many inferior brands out there so if you have tried this and not received improvement don't give up. Try some good ones from your local health food store or check out the one in our store which is available for your convenience.


      • In my experience, there usually is an underlying emotional stress or anxiety associated with IBS patients. EFT is an excellent tool to address this stress. Learn more about it by reading my free manual.



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