Bladder and Bowel Problems After Antidepressants

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January 19, 2018 | 11 Comments


  1. On reading the article about poor Faye Howard, it was clear she experienced real misery and disability from the bowel condition caused by her “migraine meds.” However, it also seems clear this might never have led her to hang herself, but for a tragic double-whammy: An antidepressant prescription for the emotional stress brought on by her illness. Her GP told the Daily Mail:

    “I first saw Faye in 2016 when she presented with abdominal pain and constipation. This was a recognised but not common side effect of Amitriptyline, which she had been taking to treat the migraines she was experiencing. She was advised to stop taking the medication. The problems were normally a reversible side effect but it can take some time, sometimes even months or years to calm down …

    “In January 2017 I diagnosed Faye with low mood and anxiety. When she returned from Scotland [apparently in April or May of 2017] I recognised a significant change in her mood and demeanour, and I prescribed her with anti-depressants …

    “On the 5th of June I saw Faye and she said she had laid out some pills on the table and so I did a suicide assessment. I assessed her risk of suicide as mild to moderate but she had not reached the threshold for the next stage. I didn’t see it coming at all. The last time I saw her she was really positive about everything.”

    Her boyfriend said Faye had “told me she was having thoughts about wrapping her car round a tree or putting tablets out on the table but she explained to me that she would not do it and that it was just a bad moment. I had planned to see her that Friday on my return from Scotland for a meal. When she sent me those text messages on the 29th of June I knew they were serious and I called the police to express my concerns.”

    On the Thursday morning [June 29] she came downstairs with a black sports bag and said to her dad: “I am sick of everything and everybody”, and that was the last he saw of her. The day before she’d had words with an unsympathetic manager on her job, and handed in her resignation.

    She was found hanged later that same day, June 29, in a local park. Beside her were her cell phone, playing music, a picture of her grandfather, and two packets of antidepressants.

    The second set of antidepressants were not named. It seems the GP did not even realize she had been given antidepressants twice. Neither did the Daily Mail, of course. Cause of death: Despair over a crippling physical illness caused by her migraine medicine. I think that may be at best half-right.

    If she hadn’t been the beautiful girlfriend of a popular football star, we’d never have heard her name at all. How many more stories are out there, never really heard by anyone?

    • You put the case so well Johanna – that it takes fame for a person’s anguish to make it to the media. The truth about it is that these drugs don’t care about fame or fortune – they just attack wherever they can.
      It was announced in the Welsh Assembly ( the nearest we Welsh get to being allowed to take care of our own matters – health being one) that in one town in South Wales, 1 in 3 of the inhabitants are on antidepressants. It doesn’t give the age range which is a pity – we assume that, maybe it applies to adults only? However, knowing how things seem to be going, it probably applies to the teenagers of the town, I hope that children there are being kept well away from such prescriptions.
      How on earth have we let it get to this? It’s rather obvious that with that ratio on ADs the problems surrounding their use is also going to be high. The NHS is on its knees – why can’t those in power SEE that the way forward is NOT by prescribing more and more. Ensuring that people have something to live for – i.e. jobs, would surely make more sense.

    • I’m off Seroxat 6 years in March still suffer lots off symptoms one off these being intermittent spells off irritable bowel excessive wind can’t tolerate any fatty foods or it goes through me in no time not very good for your social life if you have a meal with friends then end having to be excused to then end up weeing out your bum all evening lol .Also two weeks ago after suffering all over body pain that started in August they now think I have fibromyalgia? Could this also be linked to 13 years Seroxat use ? I haven’t taken any tablets for the last five years looked into this fybromyalgia label and the nhs guidelines state they prescribe ssris for fibromyalgia two listed were paroxetine and venlafaxine you could make this s@@t up unbelievable. After a bit off research online seems like a lot off long term ssri users have diagnoses off fibromyalgia could the drugs be causing it no it’s abit off the subject but if anyone has seen any links blogs to this would be interested.

  2. I would really like to know more about the mechanisms underlying IC vs some of the other pelvic and bladder conditions. My IC will respond to certain treatments that my pudendal neuralgia won’t. That’s actually how I figure out if the bladder symptoms I’m having at a particular time are IC or the neuralgia because there are some symptom overlap between the 2. I always hope it’s IC because there is more than can be done for it, in my case at least.

  3. I can add a couple of personal experiences: Interesting to see that current thinking relates the problems peeing on tricyclics as related to catecholamine dysfunction, not cholinergenic. When I was on a big, big dose of clomipramine back in 2000 I couldn’t pee at all, got urinary retention one weekend, which believe me is a scary feeling. Lowering the dose relieved the matter but I still remember the fright of simply not being able to go, with a bursting bladder. I thought I was going to explode. Interesting too that it’s more common in men. Now I have what would probably be diagnosed as urinary frequency/irritable bladder although it rarely proceeds into full blown cystitis. But – I have many friends who, getting older and a bit inclined to stress incontinence have been referred to the local Bladder & Bowel clinic (financed by ? not sure, but probably one of the companies which market duloxetine and other drugs as a treatment for stress incontinence. Astellas got into trouble a few years ago for direct-to-consumer adverts (forbidden in the UK) on the back of the doors in women’ public loos. ‘Incontinence? Don’t suffer in silence’ etc – with details about duloxetine. I darkly suspect them to be behind the sudden proliferation of nurse-led Bladder & Bowel clinics).

    The bowel thing is dreadful. Pooing yourself, or leaking, or constipation so bad you need to pump yourself full of laxatives is one of those conditions which are unutterably distressing but receive little attention or sympathy. On tricyclics I was so constipated I only managed by taking a huge daily dose of laxative. Oddly, olanzapine didn’t block me up – but does many people. However, post all those drugs I’m left with a dodgy gut: wind, cramps, leaks (specially at night) and often the feeling that everything has just slowed down. Or, conversely has become overactive. I can understand why people link symptoms to food allergies.

    Strikes me, it’s one of those things that people very rarely talk about and if they do take the problem to a GP – IBS will be diagnosed. My guess is too that the IBS will never be related to drug damage. In the meantime we fart away at embarrassing moments, every time we bend over in my case, change bed sheets all the time and look around desperately for the nearest loo when out, mostly in vain as there are very few. Or kill themselves like poor Faye.

  4. Aside from the IBS and bladder dysfunction,many of these people complain of severe dry mouth,plus a constellation of other side effects ,which suggest anticholinergic effects.Also at least fifty percent of these patients have a history of a dysfunctional gut,plus other complaints such as fibromyalgia,chronic fatigue syndrome,migraine.See my article The Systemic Manufestations Of IBS.

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