Bladder and Bowel Problems After Antidepressants

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January 19, 2018 | 63 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

    • Urinary retention is a real thing. You feel like having to pee all the time, it can hurt and what’s happening is your bladder is never being fully emptied. I had this happen while taking amitriptyline for my constant pain of 14 years from degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis. I had to quit taking it and if I take anything like it for too long, like Benadryl for allergies, it will start back up. I am at my wits end.I take alprazolam to deal with the anxiety and panic attacks from being in constant pain. I’ve tried everything out there, anti-inflammatories, surgery, epidurals, you name it. I’ve tried it cause dang, a person can only take so much pain, especially now that others abused meds and now those with degenerative diseases, can’t get relief beyond, oh a Tylenol. I’m screwed when it comes to modern medicine because either the side effects could kill me or government is cracking down because of people just looking to get high. Not fair. My life has changed dramatically and I can’t do half the things I used to be able to.

      • I’ve been off of Sertraline for a while now. I titrated myself from it (my own way since the regimented style made withdrawals like brain zaps, worse) I was on it for 5+ years at a dose of 200mgs a day. I continue to have horrible incontinence but, sporadically. It was an everyday occurrence and now, it’s a couple of times a week. I think that the Sertraline numbs you to life. You get to a point where you don’t feel the full range of emotions that, as a human being, you positively should. I think that, when you start feeling again, it’s almost overwhelming. I believe also that my body was numbed to some extent too. These waves of incontinence will pass. No, I don’t have medical data that tells me this. I have my body. A body that was experiencing crushing brain zaps which have, thankfully, stopped. This too shall pass. I feel like my body is acclimating to being able to feel again.
        When I’ve been going and I feel the urge to go and go and go again almost immediately, I actually try to hold off a little bit. It seems like it becomes more comfortable and usually the incontinence will fade for a couple of days. I’m NEVER taking these meds again!
        Feel better ❤ you’re not alone

  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

  11. I was on Celexa (Citalopram) for about 15 years to treat anxiety. I wanted to wean off the drug as I was emotionally numb and after years of therapy needed to use skills I had learned. I took about 2 years to be weaned off if the drug with steady lowering of the dosage from 40mg/day down to 5mg/day. I had many withdrawal symptoms such as the brain zaps, sudden brief disorientation, forgetfulness, sudden need to cry, angry outbursts, confusion and the worst which is still ongoing;14 loos/watery bowel movements a day. The gastrointestinal issues were so bad I was not sleep more than 90 minutes at a time through the night. Going anywhere was a gamble on whether I’d make it to a bathroom in time. In the beginning when I had to go, there was absolutely no waiting. It’s get to a bathroom n-o-w or have an accident. How I made it through work those first 6 months is still amazing to me. I went to my primary care doctor. I had blood tests that came back normal. The stool tests came back normal. I was then sent to a Gastroenterologist. I had a colonoscopy with biopsies taken. Everything came back as normal. No polyps. No disease. X-Rays showed nothing unusual. I said this all started after being weaned off of Celexa. Blank stare from the doctor. Oh, maybe you have a bit if IBS and the medicine was masking it. I said I never had IBS in my life. No issues whatsoever with intestines or stomach prior to that medicine. Doctor said if it continues, come back and we’ll address. In the meantime take 2 heaping teaspoons of Metamucil every day. That did help to clump things together but was still going excessively. I went to a second Gastroenterologist and was given food allergy tests. I thought let’s try and see. I am allergic to some foods but nothing that would cause any noticeable symptoms. This doctor stated that my bowels may be damaged and never return to normal. Over 3 years the daily bowel movements dropped from 14 to about 4. They are still soft/solid and at time watery. I take 1 teaspoon of Metamucil after dinner each evening adn VSL #3 probiotic (nondairy) in the morning. From time to time I do take one Immodium AD pill, but in 3 years I think I’ve taken 8 pills in total. It does not offer a lot of help. I exercise about 3 days/week to help calm down my intestines. I really don’t want to go back on Celexa or any other med. I am hoping that at some point in the coming years my body will correct itself. Frustrating.

    • I have a very similar story after being on Paxil for about 5 years. I’ve been off for about 15 years now and still have to manage my sensitive bowel movements. It’s by far not as bad as the first couple years, but definitely not the same as before being on Paxil.

    • I personally cleared some of the same simtoms with the liver cleanse. Look into it. Celexa is messing up with hormons and with liver.

    • Hi Kenneth. I’ve been going through something very similar with my bowel movements. Have you seen any additional improvement since you wrote this post?

      • Hi Andy. There have been slight changes in my bowels. I now go anywhere from 1 to 3 times a day. I have to go immediately upon waking in the morning and then again a few hours later but not as urgently. Diarrhea happens from time to time (makes me apprehensive all the time). Mostly, the stools are soft and semi formed. Once every several weeks, I’ll have a “normal ” movement. When that occurs its usually in the evening. It gives me hope that maybe, one day, things will settle down. I still take 1 teaspoon of sugar free metamucil everyday after dinner and probiotic VSL#3 each morning. Both do help to keep things together. I also take one imodium each morning, although I don’t think it really helps much. I have better periods of time where things are more tolerable/manageable. Right now I’m in a rough period of loose stools with brief intestinal pain. I’m working from home during this pandemic since last March, so some of the stress of physically going to work and needing the bathroom have been alleviated. My primary care Dr. just retired so I have to find a new doctor and explain this situation and hope I get better answers or guidance.

    • I have been in anti depressants for 22 years. On cymbalta for over ten. Finally weaned off a month ago but I have to run to a bathroom about 4-8 times a day. Cramping, pencil stools, watery stools and the gas and bloating is terrible . I don’t know what to do anymore . I am a nurse and this makes life so so hard

      • Hi Natalie, have you seen any improvements since your post? I am having the same issues since coming off mirtazapine. I’m a mess. 6 bowels movements a day. Burning stomach. No appetite.

  12. I have been taking Sertraline (25 mg) since the end of November. Over the last month or so I have experienced a few light blood drops coming from my penis when having a bowel movement. A small amount of blood also is released during sex. No blood is secreted when urinating or at any other time. I am 72 years old and am taking a diuretic pill and Zocor, but have always had good PSA results. I’ve had several lab tests that show no blood in my urine. Could Sertraline be inflamming my prostrate and causing the small blood secretions when I have bowel movements?

  13. I have taken many ssri’s over the years, and am currently on Zoloft. About 4-6 weeks after starting ssri’s I would notice blood in my semen. Sometime just a trace and other times, enough to make me scared that something is really wrong. I go to the urologist and always get diagnosed with prostatitis. I get prescribed some type of antibiotic and I usually stop the ssri and the problem goes away. So I’m 4 weeks in on my zoloft and yesterday, blood in my semen. I have no other symptoms. So what does everyone think? It has to be from the ssri’s right? My urologist said he sees more and more of this.

  14. Two weeks off of cymbalta. In the withdrawal phase, Peeing every hour at night. Same thing when I was on sertraline, Prestiq and it was not to bad when I was on prozoc

  15. I have been on Prestiq off and on and the most common side affects I see are difficulty in having an orgasm, restricted urine flow and occasionally semen leak when having a bowel movement

    • Hi Chris. I had the same inability to orgasm when on Zoloft. I was switched to Celexa and that problem was gone. However I am now off of Celexa 3 years and 8 months after on it for about 15 years. I now have gastrointestinal problems.

  16. Since taking 1200 mg of gabapentin fgir nerve pain I don’t have to urinate every few minutes in the evening. I have taken antidepressants off and on since 1992 when I was finalizing a divorce. I was just given the prescription and not told when to come back. After one year I felt so baf I left my job and went on Social Security disability for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. When on 20 mg Prozac I couldn’t sit still or concentrate well. I was wired. I finally quit it after 1.5 years. I was then given Effexor 37.5 mg. Then it was one AD after another….never went back to being my old self despite a very good second marriage. I believe these drugs make it so one can never get off them and return to their old self. In my case I was just grieving and should not have been treated like I was depressed. Grief is normal after any significant loss and should be allowed to resolve on its own. I didn’t know why I was crying on my way to work or why I felt like nothing mattered. I thought grief was only when someone died. Heaven help us all!

    • I have also suffered tremendous loss after losing my mum and my sister.The terrible sinking feeling,the low mood and hopelessness led me back to my GP to ask for help.Citalopram even at a low dose was awful.Churning stomach so bad,i didnt dare cough or sneeze!!!!!!3 weeks in and i’d had enough.So sertraline was next.Jesus christ,i have never wanted to eat so much in my life.As a former anorexic (now finally recovered)the thought of being as hungry as this brings me out in a cold sweat!!!!.To add insult to injury,i can pee for england.How nice!!!.Sick and tired literally.I honestly believe the best anti depressant in the world is Kindness.Simple.No side effects.

  17. I think we just have to truly listen to our bodies and take what docs say with a grain of salt. I started lexapro a month ago, and while it made my depression over health problems more manageable, and lowered my anxiety so I could focus better and read books again, it also seemed to make my prostate flare up. I’ve had issues with this in the past, but usually just for a night or two. This has been for weeks now.
    I told the doctor and he switched me to Zoloft, and although symptoms are less, I’m also once again on the starting dose. I pee less often on the Zoloft but I feel the prostate is still irritated. I lose sleep over it still. Both meds are SSRI’s, which just makes me think meds aren’t gonna work for me. Trying to stick it out, but not sure if feeling like a zombie or having a chemical sensation all the time is the right option for me. I’ve tried SNRI’s twice and felt very stressed on them. The SSRI’s are easier to tolerate mentally, but considering the nightmares, gassy butt, insomnia, urinary and prostate problems, not to mention sexual side effects, I don’t think I’ll keep up with them.

  18. I am a 35 year old female who was on effexor for 3 year and Prozac for 5 years. Since I have been off I have experienced major digestive problems virtually everything seems to make me sick I also notice my moods coinside with the digestive issues. I suffer from all over joint and muscle pain to the point where I cannot sleep on my sides at all as the shoulder and hip pain is too intense. I also suffer from zero sex drive which is destroying my relationship. And to top it off I still suffer from the depression I originally went on the meds for accept now I have severe anxiety which I never had before. I do not enjoy social settings the way I always did and find myself turning down holiday invites.

    • I feel your frustration. I’ve been weaning off Effexor since last summer. What a nightmare. At first I did it so slowly I didn’t notice a lot but when I went from 75mg to 37.5 which has taken months I started to notice aches and pains, sleepless nights and now as I lowered it again my bowels have just gone crazy. I’m so frustrated with the Doctors. She had put me up to 150 mg early last year Jan 2019. I became suicidal and had nightmares so went back down to 112.5. In the summer of 2020 I told her I didn’t think they were working anymore and so she told me she did not want to add another medication as she could medicate me till I didn’t feel anything and that I needed to feel things. She was right, so that inspired me to start weaning off. I have been working with a pharmacist who practices both traditional and holistic health and she has been a God send. As my dose lowered she introduced me to a supplement called Neurapas made up of Valerian, St Johns Wort and Passion flower. But my dose of Effexor had to be very very low to avoid contraindications. Neurapas has helped me immensely. Pharmacists are far more knowledgeable on drugs than Doctors. My dear old Doctor who retired told me that years ago. I truly believe Doctors leave us on these meds far too long. I curse the day I ever heard the word Effexor! All the best to you. Don’t give up maybe see if you can find a really good pharmacist like I did.

  19. Trying to get off antidepressants has been a nightmare literally. Bowel issues galore! Nausea, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain. Doctor says I have IBS. Lots of joint , muscle pain in back especially. Fibromialgia? Was on Paxil for 5 years then Effexor XR for close to 15 years. Been off for 7 months and with all the pain and stomach issues been so depressed and irritable. It seems like I will never recover.

    • I’m three months off Zoloft and I’m in hell. It’s when I lay down at night my guts feel all wrong. At what point do I go back on Zoloft just to get relief?

  20. As with you Wend, after year on anti depressants first Ssri for anxiety then amitriptaline for back pain . I’ve been off ssri 2 yr and amitriptaline over 6 months and the amount of gastrointestinal/ digestive issues are pushing me to go back on them . That’s all my dr ever suggests when I tell her my tummy and bowel issues are causing so much anxiety . It’s a no win situation. . I’ve attended counciling and other that scoring full points on the suicidal sheet they haven’t got a clue . I just wish I could find a doctor who was in the know . !

  21. I just found out about the specific side effects of coming off of zoloft within the last couple of months. I have been on it since I was 18. No one told me about the sexual problems it would cause. ED and or no completion. I was told that it was because of my depression, so they would prescribe me Viagra or Cialis. I am 35 now. I have been on Zoloft for 16 years. Almost half of my life. Recently divorced. I have been trying to quit zoloft for the last 2 years. The ED and lack of arousal led to my marriages down fall. After being single for a year, I got a new girfriend and I committed to getting off of Zoloft. Talking with my Dr. we tapered down from 200 MG to 100 MG over over a few months period. It was at that point that I was no longer able to “finish” with my new girlfriend, even with the viagra. But what was more surprising was that I could not urinate. I remember it was just this past December 2019 that I fell asleep on the toilet, waiting to urinate. I could no longer sexually perform, and I lost another promising relationship. It was that exact week that I decided to figure out what was going on with me. And I came across this article saying that there is a risk of Pelvic floor dyssynergia. And reading the comments (from people who are years removed from SSRIs) I feel I will never be the same. I am still young. I was told through my college years that I had ED because of my depression. I don’t think there was anything wrong with me to begin with. I let my grades slip in high school to party and have fun. The next thing I know I’m on this medicine that I’ve now been on for half of my life. I tried to quit once. I moved to Korea to teach English for a year. Everything hit me like a truck. The urinary problems, the ED, the anxiety, the constant wondering what is wrong with me. It was 2010. I skyped my Dr. which was pretty amazing technology 10 years ago, and he told me they were going to give me a 6 month supply of Zoloft. (I had been in Korea 6 months already at the time).

    I just don’t get it. I look back at the beginning and Junior year of high school and I felt normal and had feelings about life and excitement. Now, after reading the article for the 5th or 6th time, I finally decided to comment. And I’m not happy. I feel like this life was pushed upon me by Dr’s who didn’t know what they were prescribing. I look to the future and all I can see is a regiment of pills for the next 50 or so years, and none of them are going to fix what has been done. I don’t care about gut problems. But one person said they were still having issues 2 years after quitting. It’s just not fair. I really felt normal and now I know that I’m not and never will be. I lost a marriage over this drug. I lost another great girl who was just trying to help out. I don’t want 50 more years of this.

  22. Has anyone had problems with bed wetting while stepping off these medications? I was put on Citalopram (Celexa) when I was 18, (now 24,) and have wet the bed twice since starting the tapering off process. Like many others here, I approached my doctor about my anxiety and without much consulting he put me on it and just kinda left it there all these years. I recently saw a new doctor and we decided to see about some stepping off and trying to deal with the problems without medication. Started the tapering process 2 weeks ago and have wet the bed once each week.

    I’ve also been suffering from fairly severe gastrointestinal issues ever since being on the medication. I’ve always assumed it was due to my anxiety, and my doctor prescribed me with IBS. I’ve never been lactose intolerant, but recently dairy had been destroying my insides along with my normal day to day stomach problems.

    Lastly, the last few times my wife and I have had intercourse I’ve noticed that I’ve had issues staying erect, and I can only imagine that it is from the medications.

    • Clozapine is a drug that is well known to cause people to wet the bed. From what we know about how it acts it seems likely that citalopram withdrawal could affect the same systems that lead clozapine to trigger this problem – so yes, it is definitely possible your drug is causing this.

      This is a good example of the kinds of problems Pelvic Floor Dysnergia can cause


  23. I took escitalopram (lexapro) for a couple of years and I decided to quit them about 5 months ago. Ever since then my digestive problems have been SO bad, I can barely function anymore. I feel extremely bloated, gassy, constipated, nauseous etc… I don’t remember having that before I started taking escitalopram. Escitalopram effects the serotonin in your brain which in return effects your bowels. I don’t know if its ever gonna get better again or if my bowels are permanently damaged. I’m considering starting escitalopram again just to get rid of the IBS.

  24. I was suffering from PTSD and was prescribed escitalopram 10 mg. I was 21 years old then,took this med for about 1 year. Then stopped suddenly, which was a mistake i later learned, learned the hard way. a few weeks went pretty okay, with additional tremors and mood swings, but these vanished completely afterwards. A month later probably, i started to go to toilet more frequently than ever before. Not so problamtic though, no sensation of incompleteness at all. Hell, one day after passing stool i felt like something remained, that squeezing sensation was so painful and unsettling i can’t explain with words. Took bisacodyl for relief, nothing works. That persisted for a few days before consultation with a GP. He prescribed me with some anti cholinergics, didn’t work the way they should. He suspected IBS.After some time, it felt little bettwr but i suffered from constipation, i knew something is not quite right. Goggled down everything i could imagine, i wanted a solution, suffering was so intense i had my brain stuck on my gut, oh those cramping would go insane whenever i was anxious or in fear or excited. after a few months, i talked with my aunt, she told me to consult with an ayurvedic physician. I opted for it, i was not sure though but was hopeless. He prescribed some medication and also told me to go to gym as well. I couldn’t join gym for some personal reasons not mentioning here. Btw, medication alone helped me, the symptoms went worst to bad in a few months but still problem was there, he again told me to go to gym. Gradually i felt better, not quite better but my life got normal. But it didn’t solve my problem completely, sometimes it hurts, my colon and rectum dysfunctions a lot.

    • Hi Biswajit
      Can you update us on how things are going for you? What worked? I’m really struggling with constantly going to the bathroom after coming off mirtazapine

  25. I was on Prozac for eight years. I decided I wanted to wean myself off so that I could safely have a baby someday. I weaned off over a couple of months and was fine for two weeks. Then by the second week my digestive system has been all messed up. The first three weeks were filled with horrible nausea, diarehha, gas, and pain. I thought by then it would get better since it would all be out of my system. Boy was I wrong… The symptoms just kept continuing. Doctors don’t understand the effects of getting off of these drugs. I had blood tests, abdominal ultrasounds to look for gallbladder problems, and hpylori test. All tests came back normal. I decided the symptoms were too bad so I gave up and decided with my doc to go back on an ssri and try lexapro this time. Another mistake… After less than a week on it I developed horrible acid reflux. Went to another doc who said I just have acid reflux and that’s it. So now I’m on 40 mg protonix for acid reflux or Gerd. Now I weened off of Lexapro and am going back on Prozac. All because I have given up and just want my life back. I have a Hida scan scheduled to see if it is my gallbladder just not functioning right. But I’m sure after spending thousands of dollars on doctors, it’s all going to just be this ssri thing in the end. So frustrating!

  26. I was on low dose mirtazapine for 10 months To help deal with GI issues, body pain, anxiety and weight loss. It did the job but not 100%. Decided to go off due to the extreme weight gain. Weaned down a month ago. First week was ok. Second week I was extremely anxious. 1 month later I have GI issues but primarily I’m pooping up to 6-7 times a day. It seems like the anal muscles can’t relax and I am not emptying fully, even tho I’m pooping a lot each tome. Stools vary from loose to formed. Dr said my “condition” and anxiety is back and wants me on amitriptaline. I don’t want to start a new med. yes I am extremely anxious bc of this bowel issue. I am so afraid to leave my house bc I keep going to the bathroom. My poor children are wondering what is going on. Will this get better?? I really am a mess and would appreciate any words of advice from anyone who has experienced this. What has worked for others to overcome this problem?

  27. I was on 20mg Citalopram for about 8 years. I did not feel the need of taking it anymore so my “doctor” advised me to reduce the dose from 20mg to 10 mg for a few months and then from 10 mg to 0 mg.

    Accute withdrawal symptoms (brain zaps, diziness, nausea, irritability) kicked in after 3-4 days and lasted for about 1,5 months. However after about 2,5 months I started to have really concerning gastrointestinal issues – diarrhea, sharp pain in the stomach and in the bowels, indigestion. I went trhough all possible medical checks – the only test which came back positive proved that my pancreas does not produce enough digestive enzymes… No need to mention that I NEVER ever had any similar issues before…

    I’m 100% sure that there is a link between taking Citalopam and my current state and it is very frustrating how little we – and the doctors – know about this topic…..

  28. Thank you for the article. I dont know how long i have searched for something that would tell me interstitial cystitis symptoms can be caused by withdrawal of SsRIs. I was on Zoloft 50mg for 8 years for PMDD. I didn’t want to the time i saw no other option. I weened off (probably too fast but I didn’t know proper way) over two months and was done by late December 2020 and since January have had symptoms. Praying for healing as i know see a functional nurse who is guiding me to heal my gut. Every day is hard and it is hard to have hope one day I will feel better and be healed.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I too am going thru the exact same issues. Stopped my meds in June and now in July have IC symptoms. Waiting to see a urologist but my symptoms are getting worse. What has helped you? I would really like to hear about ways I can get help. I’m really struggling and I can’t go on like this

    • Hi Jennifer

      Have you received any help? What has worked for you? I’m in the same position and need help. Everyday is hard.

  29. My daughter has been taking Sertraline for 2 months and has had very loose bowel movements for nearly 3 weeks now. Should she come off it? I’m very worried.

    • If she doesn’t come off it, everything will only get worse. I wish someone had told me that when I was experiencing problems first being put on sris. 11 years gone in the blink of an eye. Anyways, her body is reacting negatively on them for a reason. It’s saying ‘stop, I can’t deal with this.’ Coming off should be done carefully, depending on how long she’s been on them. The doctor(s) will probably say to just tough out the symptoms, and that she’ll only get them when starting (not true), or to try another drug that does the same thing. Also not a good idea.

    • Wow, I didn’t realize you said how long due to brain fog, another symptom of antidepressants. (I’m currently in withdrawal.) They say 10% every 2-3 months for long-term users (years), but Idk about 3 months. You should both do research and decide what’s best. If willing to take her off the drugs, doctor(s) would probably say cold turkey, but it’s already made changes in 3 months, so that would not be a good idea. is a forum that has good info, although no one can join rn, otherwise I would’ve, lol. But just know that if she comes off, there is probably no permanent damage. The same cannot be said if someone is parked on those things for years. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself the same things I’m telling you, when I was 14 and experiencing the same thing, diarrhea 3 months in. Little did I know that is only the tip of the iceberg… Anyways, good therapy is a better substitute than drugs that make you a zombie and give you a boatload of physical side effects. I’ve been on different doses of nearly every sri/ssri over the years, and they all do the same thing. I don’t mean to sound scary, but it’s true. I became a completely different person. I never wanted to engage with anyone and just lied in bed all day. I stopped showering and brushing my teeth. I became suicidal. I barely graduated high school because attendance was such a problem. I dropped out of college. I can’t do things for myself anymore, although now things are improving, slowly, since I’ve been off all meds for 7 months. I try to do things, I realize I have to, I feel like a person again, I want to be a part of human society, though this virus done messed everything up, lol, so I’m mostly stuck at home waiting for it to go away. Sorry for the giant wall of text 🙁

  30. I’ve been on Wellbutrin for 2 weeks and then Effexor XR for 2 weeks after Wellbutrin made me so anxious bit was worse than my initial panic attack. Constipation became horrid and I needed laxitives to assist. Then the bladder/peeing issue popped up and I realized my pelvic floor was not doing it’s job. I also had ejaculation issues. I stopped the Effexor and am now on day 5 with some withdrawal but it’s manageable and my bladder and bowel systems are improving greatly though I had a back ache on my right side today that spooked me but it eased with an Advil. These drugs are not helpful and can do great damage!

  31. I have been on and off SSRIs for the past 5 years or so. 2 years ago I had insane digestion problems. My digestion basically stopped functioning and I was so bloated I looked pregnant. I was unable to have bowl movements. So much so I wouldn’t go for days sometimes a week and when I did, it was not substantial. This was during a withdrawal from Zoloft. I went back on an SSRI this time prozac and the higher the dose, the better my digestion. When I slowly taper down, my digestion and depression gets worse. Going off entirely will almost surely send me back into a pit of indigestion and severe depression. Does anyone know any doctors who are experts in tapering off SSRIs??

    • Jake

      There is no such thing as an expert in tapering off SSRIs – some of the problems you outline here explain why – there are a host of things that can happen like your bowel problems that no-one understands and that need work arounds specific to the person with that particular problem. You need a good someone – a doctor who listens and can prescribe something that you and s/he agree might be worth trying would be good but could be someone else.

      Where can you find such a person – chances are you won’t. Its not because there aren’t people around but no-one has managed to put together a map/network of where they are


  32. I was on venlafaxine for 3weeks. First 7 days 34.5 then a week of 75 mg. That is when the constipation started. I am off them now but still constipated after 7 days. Why is this? Help please.

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