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Antidepressants in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

Background:

Antidepressants are commonly used to treat symptoms of anxiety and depression in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Recent studies suggest a link between IBD activity and an individual's emotional state which raises the possibility that antidepressants may potentially modify the disease course of IBD. This systematic review thus primarily aims to evaluate the efficacy of antidepressants on IBD activity, and secondarily, on anxiety and depression.

Methods:

MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane (IBD Group), CINAHL, AMED, PsycINFO, and OpenGrey were searched from 1990 onward with no restrictions on study design. A quality appraisal was conducted using several scales as appropriate for each study design. A narrative synthesis was also conducted.

Results:

Fifteen eligible studies included in the review (1 randomized controlled trial, 2 cohorts, 1 case–control, 1 cross-sectional survey, 1 qualitative, 2 audits, 1 case series, and 6 case reports) examined a range of antidepressants. Twelve studies suggested that antidepressants have a positive impact on IBD course. Nine studies reported anxiety and depression as an outcome, of these 8 reported beneficial effects of antidepressants. Most of the studies were deemed to be at low risk of bias, apart from the case reports, which were at high risk of bias.

Conclusions:

This research indicates that antidepressants may have a beneficial effect on IBD course. However, it is currently not possible to determine their efficacy for certain because of the lack of randomized trials. Further trials using objective measures of IBD activity, longer follow-up periods, and larger sample sizes are needed.

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