Anyone been prescribed Citalopram as a treatment for IBS?

Posted , 4 users are following.

Can anyone let me know if they've been prescribed and have taken Citalopram for IBS-D?

I've had IBS-D (diarrhoea) for just over a year now and after lots of tests and consultations with a Gastron consultant at my local hospital they have prescribed me Citalopram and have discharged me.

The consultant didn't tell me a lot about the drug, apart from the fact that it is addictive, so I've been given a small dosage for a limited time frame, (4 weeks), and that it helps not only my current feelings of dealing with IBS but also helps to relieve the stomach pains I regularly feel.

Having now done a lot of research today on the internet and read many of the blogs of this site I am now worried that this isn't a suitable medication for treating IBS. I am particularly worried about reading on many websites that a main side-effect of the drug is nausea and diarrhoea - these are exactly the symptoms I want to treat, not to have more of!!

If anyone has either experienced these side effects or has been prescribed this drug for IBS I would be extremely interested to know your thoughts, either positive or negative.

Your input would be greatly received, so that I feel more informed before deciding to take the drug or not.

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9 Replies

  • Posted


    you have just explained to me why my IBS has gone after 20 years.

    I noticed 2 weeks ago that i was eating food that i have been unable to eat for years. I had no idea it was the citalopram.

    I am on 10mg a day for anxiety and have been on it for 4 months.

    Had a few strange thoughts and am a little loose but thats all to report.

    Did your consultant say the IBS would come back after you stopped the citalopram


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    • Posted

      Hi Lizy, I`ve been taking 10mg cit for 6 months for mild anxiety since my mother died, I was made redundant and moved house all at the same time. I have found just lately that my IBS and food intolerances have greatly improved and I belive it`s down to the cit. I feel a lot better now and was thinking about weaning myself off the cit but am reluctant in case the IBS returns.
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  • Posted

    Hi, Your question is really interesting to me!!!

    I was very ill about 5 years ago...I couldn't go to the toilet i felt bloated, i couldn't stand the smell of food let alone eat it etc. I went to my GP a few times and he said that he wanted to give me Diazepam for Anxiety which he thought was causing the problem!

    I told him that I didn't want them as i dodnt feel anxious at all!

    So anyway this went on and on adn eventually a locum doctor diagnosed me with IBS-C. i followed his advice about diet etc and felt alot better!

    About 12 months ago I got married and shortly after started havign horrendous panic attacks and weird feelings. I realised taht theses feelings were a much more extreme version of the feelings i had been having for the last few years!!

    I started taking Citalopram for anxiety and Mild Depression 4 Months ago and i feel much better! Also my IBS has cleared up, i have no problems with the toilet i can eat all sorts of things taht i used to avoid without any awful cramps, acid or nausea!

    I don't knwo if it is just coincidence taht my IBS had improved since i have been on the Citalopram but i do know that with anxiety the first thing to tense up/ spasm is the gut as with IBS therefore the treatment for anxiety should help the gut wheter it is for IBS or anxiety!!

    Sorry for rambling on but your question has just put some pieces of teh puzzle together!!

    I have had no lasting side effects from Citalopram just a week or two of dry mouth and a fuzzy head at the begginning. I would definately give them a go....whats' the worst that could happen!!


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  • Posted


    So the question now is if the two are connected will the IBD stay away once you come off the tablets untill you get your next bout of anxiety.

    20 years is a long time to suffer i'm sure i couldn't have been that bad for that long ?


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  • Posted

    Hi Lizzy,

    I really don't knwo the answer to that i'm afraid. Anxiety someting that effects IBS as far as i can tell from the experience ive had, i have had underlying anxiety for the last 5 years so maybe it could be that you have had it for the last 20 years??!!

    Who knows. I am just taking one day at a time with the Citalopram and keeping my fingers crossed that when i do come off them that my IBS won't return as my anxiety will have hopefully been sorted out!! If not then then i will cross that bridge when i get to it. I am just greatful that my life is slowly but surely returning to normal smile

    I really hope everything works out for you!!

    KLM xx

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  • Posted


    Sounds good to me, but has put a whole new angle on things so i think i shall not be in such a rush to stop taking these tablets. I wanted to stop last month was told to stay on them for at least another 8 weeks.

    My GP doesn't believe in prescribing them he prefers the cognitive therapy bit. So i will keep up the good work.

    Take care of yourself.


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  • Posted


    I was very interested to see a link with IBS-D and citalopram - infact my GP has just taken me off of these with immediate affect for the precise reason that apparently they can cause ulcers and certainly IBS.

    This has solved so many problems - I was struggling terribly with extreme stomach cramps and the squits every morning without fail and would be stuck to the toilet for 3-4 hours! I must add that I've been on cit for 2.5 years and suffered with IBS-D for about a year so certainly wouldn't say it was an over-night thing-my GP agreed in that it tends to happen with pro-longed use.

    Recently I've started to wean myself off (was on 30mg) and noticed that my IBS-D had almost stopped (apart from the dodgy take-away here and there!). I would do more research and certainly not take anything that you are unsure of without a sufficient explanation from a specialist.

    Even low doses of cit can have numerous side effects to do weigh up the positives and negatives WITH informed advice - all meds have their risks and its for you to decide. Good luck!

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  • Posted

    I have read the messages posted here and thought I should add that I have been suffering with a strange sort of gut disorder for 5 months. I have had all the tests done that are available via the gastroenterology department at the local hospital. They have adivsed that they don't know what is wrong with me and whilst some of my symptoms are similar in part to IBS they have said that they do not believe it is IBS.

    Because I do not have a dignosis I have had to do some research myself and try and find some answers to my problem. As a result I have been in correspondence with a Professor of Gastroenterology in Manchester. I have not yet seen him but I sent him a resume of my symptoms and he suggested that \"one of the best treatments for this sort of condition is an anti-depressant and we usually use either Nortriptyline or Citalopram\". I know he also treats a lot of patients with IBS and similar conditions so it is clear that anti-depressants can be a very successful treatment.

    I hope this helps.


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  • Posted


    SSRIs can be helpful in IBS, especially the constipation type. This is thought to be for 3 reasons:

    Firstly, citalopram may reduce the sensitivity of the colon to distension in

    healthy volunteers.

    Secondly, citalopram, in common with other SSRI antidepressants, may have other effects on the gut, such as accelerating transit time which would help patients with constipation

    Thirdly, there is some evidence that SSRIs have an analgesic (pain relieving) effect.

    Hope this is helpful smile

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