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Side Effect Connection with Antidepressant Use Examined

Last Updated: April 23, 2009.

Many side effects reported by women who take a tricyclic antidepressant to treat functional gastrointestinal disorder, where symptoms are not explained by observable morphologic abnormalities, do not appear to be due to the drug and may be due to psychologic distress, according to a study in the April issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

THURSDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- Many side effects reported by women who take a tricyclic antidepressant to treat functional gastrointestinal disorder, where symptoms are not explained by observable morphologic abnormalities, do not appear to be due to the drug and may be due to psychologic distress, according to a study in the April issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Syed Thiwan, M.D., from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues analyzed questionnaires on the severity and frequency of 15 symptoms completed by 57 women who received desipramine as part of a clinical trial for functional gastrointestinal disorders.

The researchers found that some symptoms occurred more frequently and worsened after two weeks of treatment, such as dizziness, dry mouth, and lightheadness. Other symptoms did not change in severity or improved after two weeks of treatment, such as morning tiredness, nausea, and blurred vision. Symptom reporting correlated with psychological distress but not desipramine blood levels.

"Most symptoms often attributed to side effects of desipramine were present before treatment; only a few, related to anticholinergic effects, worsened 2 weeks after treatment, suggesting that most so-called side effects were not associated specifically with desipramine use," Thiwan and colleagues conclude. "Such symptoms might instead be associated with psychologic distress."

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