Antidepressants for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The use of antidepressants in the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome has become quite common over the past few decades. However, it remains a controversial treatment, mainly because of the side-effects, dependency issues and evidence of an increase in suicidal thoughts, especially in the young, associated with this form of treatment.

Antidepressant drugs are said not to be addictive but there may be withdrawal symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. For this reason it is recommended that treatment with these drugs should not be stopped suddenly, but rather a 'weaning-off' period be instituted in which the dosage is gradually reduced, then stopped.

In all cases, they should be used only under the care and direction of a qualified medical professional.

*From the Committee of Safety of Medicines (UK): 'There is no clear evidence that the SSRIs and related antidepressants have a significant dependence liability or show development of a dependence syndrome according to internationally accepted criteria'


Treating IBS / Spastic Colon with Drugs

There is a misconception that the reason Irritable Bowel Syndrome / Spastic Colon is sometimes treated with antidepressants is because it is caused by stress. IBS is not caused by stress, though stress may aggravate the symptoms.

Studies have found that antidepressants can be useful as analgesics - pain reducing drugs. The drug helps block pain messages from the gastrointestinal tract to the brain, reducing visceral hypersensitivity (increased sensitivity in the nerves of the gastrointestinal tract).

In this way, some people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome may find an improvement of their condition in treatment with antidepressants. Drug studies and medical sources sometimes state that treatment with these drugs may help the brain recover it's ability to handle pain signals normally. There is little evidence supporting the theory of a permanent improvement being likely.

Many trials of antidepressants as a treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome have been done over the past few decades, and though most of them appear to find the drugs effective to some degree, there is a range of opinions as to the duration of any improvement, some concluding that improvement may be permanent, others that it may be temporary. Conclusions about the effectiveness also vary widely.

The mass of feedback and opinion from people who have been prescribed them and have found benefit from them, is that once the treatment is stopped the condition returns as before treatment started. If this was not true, and they really did help to permanently improve the condition, IBS would not be the intractable problem it still is today.

Depression can be exacerbated by environmental, economic, social and other factors that may be temporary. This may be true to a certain extent for IBS as well, as stress may aggravate the condition. Antidepressants have a very useful role to play in such instances, as a 'bridge over troubled waters'. In many cases though, the use of antidepressants becomes a long term treatment, if the person finds benefit from it.

It has to be noted that it is not fully understood how antidepressants work. A recent (Dec 2009) leaflet from The Royal College of Psychiatrists, under the question 'How do they work?', states the following:
"We don't know for certain, but we think that antidepressants 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."

Generally, the dosage prescibed for treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome is lower than the dosage used for depression. The long-term effects of taking antidepressants are not known. Insomnia, weight gain and sexual problems are possible side effects in the medium term. Serotonin Syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition, may occur if high levels of serotonin accumulate in the body.

Sukondee is 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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