Types of Antidepressants used for Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Antidepressants that are commonly used for treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome fall into two main groups:

  • Tricyclics (TCAs)
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

A newer group of antidepressants that may be useful for the treatment of IBS are Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). TCAs and SSR are however the groups most commonly prescribed.

TCAs were first developed in the early 1950s during the explosive birth of psychopharmacology. By the mid 1950s, TCAs were generating significant revenues as an antipsychotic drug. This led to a flurry of activity by research chemists, and the spectacular growth of the antidepressant market in the following decades.

It is interesting to note that as recently as December 2009 the following statement is made in a publication from The Royal College of Psychiatrists:

"We don't know (how they work) for certain, but we think that they work by increasing the activity of certain chemicals work in our brains called neurotransmitters. They pass signals from one brain cell to another. The chemicals most involved in depression are thought to be Serotonin and Noradrenaline"


Tricyclic Antidepressants

TCAs are considered useful for Irritable Bowel Syndrome / Spastic Colon where the patient suffers from diarrhea. If the person suffers from constipation, TCAs are usually not prescribed as they may aggravate the condition.

TCAs are believed to inhibit the re-absorption of serotonin, norepinephrine and, to a lesser degree, dopamine by the brain cells.

They also block other cell receptors, an effect which is believed to be the cause of many of the side effects experienced with their use.

TCAs include:
  • Amitriptyline (Elavil, Tryptizol)
  • Butriptyline (Evadyne)
  • Desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofrane)
  • Doxepin (Adapin, Sinequan)
  • Imipramine (Tofranil, Praminil)
  • Metapramine (Timaxel)
  • Nortriptyline (Pamelor, Aventyl)
  • Propizepine (Depressin, Vagran)

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

SSRIs, available since the late 1980s with the launch of fluoxetine (Prozac), are used for IBS where constipation is predominant, and should not be used for diarrhea-predominant cases.

SSRIs are believed (again, it appears that how these antidepressants work is unclear) to relieve symptoms of depression by blocking reuptake of serotonin by some of the brains nerve cells, and thereby leaving more serotonin available, which in turn improves mood by improving neurotransmission.

SSRIs include:
  • Citalopram (Celexa, Cipramil)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac, Fontex)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox, Movox)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Aropax)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft, Lustral)

Sukondee is a very effective IBS natural treatment. Sukondee will treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome and it's symptoms, such as abdominal pain, spasms, trapped gas and nausea. It releases intestinal gas and strengthens bowel function with use.


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