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Dig Dis Sci. 2008 Jan;53(1):108-15. Epub 2007 May 15.

Antidepressant therapy (imipramine and citalopram) for irritable bowel syndrome: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

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Department of Medicine, Nepean Hospital, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



The efficacy of antidepressants in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is controversial. No trials have directly compared a tricyclic with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Our aim was to determine whether imipramine and citalopram are efficacious in IBS.


This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group pilot trial with imipramine (50 mg) and citalopram (40 mg).


Of 51 IBS patients randomized, baseline characteristics were comparable among the treatment arms; the majority was diarrhea-predominant. Adequate relief of IBS symptoms (primary endpoint) was similar for each treatment arm. Improvements in bowel symptom severity rating for interference (P = 0.05) and distress (P = 0.02) were greater with imipramine versus placebo, but improvements in abdominal pain were not. There was a greater improvement in depression score (P = 0.08) and in the SF-36 Mental Component Score (P = 0.07), with imipramine. Citalopram was not superior to placebo. Approximately 20% of the variance in scores was explained by treatment differences for abdominal pain, bowel symptom severity disability, depression and the mental component of the SF-36.


Neither imipramine nor citalopram significantly improved global IBS endpoints over placebo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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