The role of antidepressants in the management of irritable bowel syndrome

Eamonn MM Quigley, MD, FRCP, FACP, FACG, FRCPI, Orla F Craig, MB, MRCPI, Timothy G Dinan, MD, PhD, DSc, FRCPsych.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a complex entity, of unknown etiology and partially understood pathophysiology, of frequent occurrence and with multiple treatments described. The relationship of psychosocial factors with the genesis and presentation of the entity has been specially studied. The patient requires an approach that considers his symptoms, the reaction to his illness and his environment. Of the many treatments described, antidepressant medications have received considerable attention but their clinical utility is unclear.

The objective of this study is to carry out a focused review of the literature on the pathophysiological bases, the presence of psychiatric comorbidity and the clinical utility of the use of antidepressants in this syndrome.