Bladder and Bowel Problems After Antidepressants

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
January 19, 2018 | 18 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.

  5. Hi Folks – have you seen the latest news plastered all over about anti depressants with the sensational headlines like :

    ‘It’s official: antidepressants are not snake oil or a conspiracy – they work’

    ‘The drugs do work: antidepressants are effective, study shows’

    yet if you read the study it looks at a time of 8 weeks and yet they are calling for ‘milllions more’ to receive ‘treatment’

  6. Well this is depressing Chris.

    It looks like antidepressants are officially effective and very safe and should be given to millions more. NOT!

    I noticed how the Royal College of Psychiatry are banging their drum again about how great antidepressants supposedly are.

    Thousands more will develop PSSD, protracted withdrawal, movement disorders and commit suicide from akathesia caused by these drugs in the coming years.

    I am glad i have learnt my lesson (a very hard lesson) about the dangers of prescription medicine, but unless my PSSD resolves, it all seems to be a wasted lesson.

    I dont know how we can get the world to wake up and see the dangers of these drugs. There seems to be too many people invested in making sure the dangers are greatly minimised or completely covered up.

    It all seems so hopeless at the moment.

  7. I’m incredibly angry with the doctors who gave me these drugs, and with me, that I was so naive.
    I am a 24 year old man and probably suffering from pelvic floor problems and maybe also hormonal / neurochemical problems after just 11 pills of Trazodone.
    My penis root feels loose, my scrotum is as good as numb, the penis only a little better.
    I have barely any libido left and feel emotionally dulled, previously I was a very sexually excitable and emotionally connected person.
    The amount of seeds is also reduced, but erections are still possible.
    It’s been 6 months since I took this poison and things have not really improved.
    I soon have an appointment in the hospital and I’m in contact with a very competent private doctor and hope there is a way out of this hell.
    I do not know how long I should live like that as a young man.

  8. I have been on Effexor xr for over 20 years and at first, when I experienced overactive bladder including terrible nocturia my psychiatrist didn’t believe me. So I soldiered on, up 3 to 4 times a night, eliminated alcohol, caffeine and acidic foods, but still up 4 times a night.
    My new psychiatrist is more open and suggested I switch to Cymbalta. So I titrated the doses down, experiencing terrible withdrawal and then, at 30 mg of Cymbalta I was up only 1 time at night. Unbelievable! What joy! But 30 mg didn’t keep depression at bay and I seemed to be putting on weight. I went up to 60 mg and the nocturia returned with a vengeance. Because of the weight gain on Cymbalta I retraced my steps back to Effexor and here I am, up 4 times a night and at my wit’s end.
    I am angry my first psych rubbished my side effect, and now these drugs have been around for awhile we see that overactive bladder IS a side effect for a small group of people. My current psychiatrist is much better but he can’t fix this and I just have to endure it. I am worn out by it all, but at least I have confirmed that the oab is not in my head but has been proven to be a side effect of the SNRI’s on my particular biology. Something to think about at night when I am up ….

  9. I’ve stopped taking the antidepresant sertraline after taking it for nine years I’m having alot of bladder problems peeing alot feeling that I want to pee all the time and pain down below when I pee.can you help

    • M

      This sounds like a legacy effect from the sertraline you were on. No-one understands exactly what is happened and until we do there is no good advice that can be given. The best sense of what might help and what probably doesn’t can likely be found on forums for interstitial cystitis

      David Healy

  10. I realise my years of overactive bladder correlate with the citalopram I was prescribed. I also have nocturnia. I feel a constant pressure in my bladder and urge to urinate. I have had urodynamics tests and an ultrasound but nothing has shown up in these. I am young according to consultant, 35 and have never been pregnant. Suggests this is functional but who knows. I have IS symptoms but without the pain.
    Aside from that I have experienced a horrendous protracted withdrawal after withdrawing too fast after 11 years of use. I also have “fibromyalgia” type symptoms though my bloods have not shown anything up so far. The whole thing has been a horror show and all this for a drug that still left me with depressive episodes. I will never have a control version of myself to compare it to

Leave a Reply