Can antidepressants treat your IBS?

Many doctors use antidepressants to treat IBS symptoms.
Many doctors use antidepressants to treat IBS symptoms.

The gut is considered the body’s second brain. This complex ecosystem might not be a thinking brain, but it does contain an extensive neural system.

The intricacies of your gut have an effect on your mood and all-round well-being. It is no wonder many doctors recommend antidepressants to patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

IBS is a chronic condition that occurs in the large intestine, but its exact causes and cure are still unknown. There are various factors that are considered as possible causes of IBS.

Irregular muscle contractions in the large intestines can cause bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and excessive gas. Miscommunication and irregularities in your gut’s nervous system can result in abdominal pain and drastic changes to your bowel movements. Inflammation and infection in the intestines can also cause IBS symptoms.

Studies have shown that antidepressants in low doses can be effective in treating the symptoms of IBS. Using antidepressants for IBS is considered an off-label approach to treating the symptoms of IBS as these medications were neither manufactured nor medically approved for treating IBS.

There are three different kinds of antidepressants that are used to treat IBS. These include:

Tricyclic antidepressants

Tricyclic antidepressants act on the gut’s neurotransmitters. Some of these neurotransmitters then act on the muscle walls of the large intestine. This type of antidepressant is great for those who suffer from IBS with diarrhoea (IBS-D). Studies have shown that tricyclic antidepressants result in a reduction of loose stools in patients.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors are antidepressants used to combat the pain experienced with IBS. These antidepressants improve a patient’s general well-being as well as symptoms experienced in the bowel.

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors, much like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, are used to treat gut pain symptoms.

Researchers have noted that stress can result in the onset and aggravation of IBS symptoms. Depression and anxiety have also been found to be common symptoms of those suffering from IBS. Using antidepressants can help to ease and treat these symptoms as well.

Image credit: iStock

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