History of depressive and anxiety disorders and paroxetine response in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: post hoc analysis from a placebo-controlled study

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2008;10(5):368-75. doi: 10.4088/pcc.v10n0504.


Objective: Although irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is highly comorbid with depressive and anxiety disorders, information on the clinical implications of this comorbidity is limited. We investigated whether a history of depressive and/or anxiety disorders was associated with response to treatment in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of paroxetine controlled release (CR) in IBS.

Method: Seventy-two IBS subjects (diagnosed using Rome II criteria) were recruited from August 2003 to November 2005 and randomly assigned to receive flexibly dosed paroxetine CR (dose, 12.5-50 mg/day) or placebo for 12 weeks. The Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI-Plus version) was used to ascertain current (exclusionary) or past diagnoses of depressive and anxiety disorders. Subjective depression, anxiety, and stress were assessed at entry and throughout the trial using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Severity of IBS symptoms was determined by the Composite Pain Score (CPS), administered via Interactive Voice Response System, and the Clinical Global Impressions scale (CGI). The primary outcome was treatment response defined as ≥ 25% reduction in CPS from randomization to end of treatment. A post hoc analysis (multivariate logistic regression) was done to evaluate whether a history of depressive and/or anxiety disorder was associated with response to medication.

Results: Baseline demographic and clinical characteristics (CPS, BDI, BAI, PSS, CGI scores) were similar between groups (history of depressive/anxiety disorder vs. no history). In multivariate logistic regression analysis, treatment response was not predicted by history of depressive and/or anxiety disorder (OR = 0.58, CI = 0.29 to 1.68, p = .32) or drug status (paroxetine CR vs. placebo) (OR = 1.26, CI = 0.68 to 3.21, p = .19). Drug status was significantly associated with the secondary outcome variable of treatment response as defined by a CGI improvement score of 1 to 2 (OR = 12.14, CI = 2.9 to 48.4, p < .001). Paroxetine CR was safe and well tolerated during the study.

Conclusions: History of depressive and/or anxiety disorder was not associated with response of IBS symptoms to paroxetine CR. Conclusions are limited due to insufficient statistical power. Further research is needed to clarify the role of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in the treatment of IBS and to elucidate the treatment ramifications of comorbid psychiatric disorders.

Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00610909.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00610909