What a load of…

More than 10% of the whole population of Australia are taking antidepressants. Apparently, that is not a big enough market for the drug companies. Surely, the market must be greater than that?

In a new metanalysis reported in the American Journal of Gastroenterology (AJG), the authors looked at using antidepressants to help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

IBS is a functional condition where the person can experience abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation. It is not harmful, but it can be quite uncomfortable and debilitating. The FODMAPS diet has been found to relieve symptoms straight away in 75% of patients. Within a week of starting, most people’s symptoms are abolished. In other words, the FODMAPS diet is a successful treatment, if the person actually follows the diet.

AJG found “the relative risk of IBS symptoms not improving with antidepressants versus placebo was 0.66”. This is a bit of a double negative but says that they are pretty confident that taking antidepressants will help reduce the symptoms of IBS. Hey that’s great, all the patient has to do is take a pill that makes you feel not so bad, and don’t worry about diets. And if you add to this that around 14% of Australians have IBS, that’s whole lot of potential new customers for the drug company.

Follow Dr Alex Joannou on LinkedIn.