Antidepressants in IBS: are we deluding ourselves?

Am J Gastroenterol. 2004 May;99(5):921-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2004.04128.x.


The benefit of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has not been clear. In the latest randomized trial published this month in the Journal, paroxetine was superior to placebo in terms of improving well-being, but not abdominal pain or bloating. Based on the results of the most recent studies, both tricyclic antidepressants and SSRIs may improve patient satisfaction or quality-of-life without relieving most of the primary gastrointestinal symptoms. This suggests that antidepressant therapy represents at best only a "band-aid" approach to management. Optimizing the use of antidepressants in IBS is a challenge, and these issues are explored in this Editorial.

Publication types

  • Comment
  • Comparative Study
  • Editorial

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Paroxetine / administration & dosage*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Paroxetine