Does trazodone help with IBS? (+9 indications)

This article will discuss whether trazodone helps with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). We will also explore the common indications for trazodone, as well as its role in the management of IBS.

Does trazodone help with IBS?

No, trazodone doesn’t help with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, it can assist in the alleviation of pain and sleep disturbances that may occur in some individuals with IBS.

Trazodone is an antidepressant medication and should not be used when the patient has only IBS without concurrent mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety.

It works by inhibiting the reuptake of a neurotransmitter, serotonin, in the brain, as well as antagonizing its effects on specific receptors known as 5-HT2A, and alpha-1 adrenergic receptors. The therapeutic benefits are attributed to these antagonizing effects (1).

If you are considering trazodone for IBS, consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable medications and treatment plan for you.

What does trazodone help with?

While trazodone is not a medication of choice for the management of gastrointestinal disorders it can help with various other health conditions. These conditions may include the following (1):

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • panic disorders 
  • post-traumatic stress disorders
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • insomnia
  • fibromyalgia
  • eating disorders
  • chronic pain
  • neuropathy

 However, it is important to note that while trazodone can be used in the management of various health conditions, including mental disorders, it should not be used without the consultation of a healthcare provider.

What does research suggest?

The use of antidepressant medications, trazodone included, is generally not part of the conventional approach to managing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) based on research findings. Nevertheless, certain studies propose that patients might undergo unusual gastrointestinal symptoms following the administration of this medication, potentially heightening IBS symptoms for some individuals (2).

According to research, trazodone has been reported to cause gastrointestinal side effects in 15 to 25% of patients within a period of 3 months of use. Commonly reported gastrointestinal side effects include nausea, stomach upset, and diarrhea (3).

Which medications can be used for IBS?

Certain medications can be provided for the symptomatic relief of symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). 

  • Antispasmodic medications for the management of pain and stomach cramps associated with IBS, such as Bentyl and Levsin.


  • Additionally, IBS can manifest with diarrhea or constipation. Depending on the specific symptom, appropriate medications can be provided.


  • Laxatives such as Miralax or Amitiza can be given to patients experiencing constipation, while loperamide (Imodium) can be prescribed to reduce watery stools.


  • Medications like Zelnorm and Lotronex can also be used in certain cases for managing the symptoms associated with IBS when an individual does not respond to conventional therapy.

What are the management tips for IBS?

Healthcare providers may recommend the following management tips for IBS:

Lifestyle modifications Making lifestyle changes, such as incorporating regular exercise and ensuring adequate sleep, can play a crucial role in regulating bowel movements and alleviating stress that might worsen the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. 
Healthy diet: Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is crucial. Incorporation of probiotics and taking plenty of fluids, especially water is also important for maintaining healthy bowel function.
Avoiding triggers Recognize and address sources of IBS, including stress, specific foods, medications that may induce IBS symptoms, and the use of alcohol and caffeine. Consider reducing or eliminating these triggers from your diet. 

 In my opinion, trazodone is not a medication of choice for IBS and its associated symptoms. There are plenty of other medications that are frequently employed in managing IBS. The use of trazodone should be limited to its FDA-approved indications, as this medication may cause serious side effects in susceptible patients (4).

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Shin JJ, Saadabadi A. Trazodone. [Updated 2022 Jul 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:


Cuomo A, Ballerini A, Bruni AC, Decina P, Di Sciascio G, Fiorentini A, Scaglione F, Vampini C, Fagiolini A. Clinical guidance for the use of trazodone in major depressive disorder and concomitant conditions: pharmacology and clinical practice. Riv Psichiatr. 2019 Jul-Aug;54(4):137-149. doi: 10.1708/3202.31796. PMID: 31379379.


Kelly K, Posternak M, Alpert JE. Toward achieving optimal response: understanding and managing antidepressant side effects. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2008;10(4):409-18. doi: 10.31887/DCNS.2008.10.4/kkelly. PMID: 19170398; PMCID: PMC3181894.

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