• dysthymia;
  • major depression;
  • double depression;
  • irritable bowel syndrome


Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has been reported in a significant number of adults. To our knowledge, no study has looked at the prevalence of IBS in patients with double depression. Methods: Using a semi-structured clinical interview to study the prevalence of IBS, we compared 26 patients seeking treatment for double depression (dysthymia plus major depression) to an age- and sex-matched control group of patients (N = 40) who were seeking treatment in a general physician's office for other medical illnesses. The control group did not have any Axis I disorders. IBS was diagnosed according to the criteria of Dross man et al. (Gastroenterol Int 4:159–172, 1990). Results: 57.69% of patients with double depression met criteria for IBS in contrast with 2.5% of the control group (P = 0.0001). Patients with double depression were more likely to complain of symptoms of weakness, nocturnal bowel movements, and gastrointestinal symptoms related to stress as compared to patients in the control group. In 50% of patients, the psychiatric disease preceded the onset of the bowel disease, whereas in 37.5% of patients the bowel symptoms appeared first. Conclusions: IBS is common in patients with double depression. Clinicians should screen patients with psychiatric illness for IBS. Depression 3:303–308 (1995/1996). © 1996 Wiley-Liss, Inc.