Gastroparesis and depression

My apologies if this topic has been addressed previously, but I'm wondering whether anyone has developed depression along with gastroparesis or IBS. Every since having been diagnosed with GP/IBS a couple of years ago I've found it challenging psychologically to deal with a chronic illness. But in the past couple of weeks things have progressed way beyond this, and I've become depressed. But the depression doesn't seem like it's just because GP is tough to deal with. It feels profoundly physiological. The worse my symptoms and the less I eat, the more depressed I feel. When my symptoms lighten up a bit, the depression lifts. I'm wonder if the depression is being caused by a lack of calories and/or lack of proper nutrition. I eat very little and can only seem to tolerate very bland white bread products--what a change from how I used to be.... I do take a multivitamin everyday, and I drink Ensure sometimes (to add calories and nutrients). Have others struggled with depression and found strategies for dealing with it?

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I think depression is a big part of GP. Whether the depression comes first or the GP comes first I guess could be debatable. For me, GP came first..I had never felt what I considered depression before that ever and never really understood why people would need medication for depression. I was given a wake up call when I developed GP and now am thankful for anti-depressants.
I know for me that it is all a vicious cycle. When my GP symptoms get worse, my depression gets worse, then the worst the depression gets the worst the stomach gets, and on and on it goes. Recently both my Mayo GI and my PCP here at home explained to me that it is very common for people to deal with this type of cycle.
I don't know if you are on any medication for depression but that is also every doctor I have seen (which has been many) have agreed upon...that it is very important for people with motility problems to be on some type of anti-depressant or anti anxiety med. I'm currently on Cymbalta, but have tried several others in the past.
I hope that you can get some answers to your questions but did want to tell you that your depression is very common with GP.

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I too have developed anxiety/depression since being diagnosed with GP. I know it's from the fear of this disease, not a side effect or symptom of it. I've just been prescribed Wellbutrin and getting ready to start it. I wonder how well antidepressants work for others here on the site with GP.

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I have experienced some emotional changes since I got GP. I have been taking domperidone which increases mood swings so I know that is the cause of some of it. I also feel like missing out on the eating portion of lots of social events is hard.
I agree with your idea that eating very little could be a cause of some of your issues. I put up with the unpleasant domperidone side effects to avoid how bad I feel when I can't eat.
I have been considering starting therapy-maybe a group for people with health issue to have someplace to talk about these issues.
Also, I have benzos useful for helping me sleep in spite of discomfort, stress and medication side effects .

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I, too, have been treated for anxiety/depression for chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction, or, as my therapist says, "secondary to" CIIP. I currently take both Paxil and Xanax, and have found both to be valuable (although they both decrease motility a bit), combined with the therapy itself, which consists of "trance" work, an offshoot of biofeedback. The goal is to get your mind and body to work together, to send supportive thoughts to your body, focusing on relaxation response, etc. I truly believe you need as many tools as you can find to cope with chronic illness. I also have rheumatoid arthritis, and the Arthritis Foundation publishes wonderful pamphlets on managing fatigue, activities, and pain, which I recommend. Finally, I find that when my liquid diet is extremely restricted, my emotional distress is greater, perhaps due to chemical imbalances and especially electrolyte imbalances. Potassium supplements help me and sometimes I can manage to eat part of a banana, which is high in potassium and other electrolytes. Hope this helps; if nothing else, it should convince you you're not alone.

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I think that may dad has developed some depression. He was diagnosed with GP about 6 months ago. Every since his diagnosis he has been having severe abdominal pain. We are in and out of the emergency room every other week. When he goes into the hospital they treat him with pain meds (Dilaudid) and that seems to aleviate his pain but when we return home he is in pain again. He does get nauseous and vomits sometimes but it's mostly dry heaving. I don't know if the pain meds are slowing his stomach down and that's what's causing the pain? My dad is always sick. He has lost about 30 pounds since his diagnosis and is very depressed. He says he doesn't even feel like a person anymore. I feel so bad for him and don't know what else to do to help him. Is this a normal thing that you guys go through with GP and is there anything that can give you some comfort? The only way he gets comfort is through pain meds. Do you think a pain management dr. might help?

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Thanks to all of you for your kind replies and thoughtful insights. At the very least it really does help to know I'm not alone in this.

jill3409dallas: I'm sorry to hear about how poorly your father is doing. But I don't know how common his experience is. I'm lucky in that my pain is not acute and I've never had to go to the ER for it. But I hope your father has a good gastroenterologist who can offer helpful information for dealing with his problems.


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I have been dealing with chronic illnesses for a long time. I had a chronic daily migraine for tow and some years and had some depression because of how isolated I became and I never saw them going away. I had surgery done on my head about two years ago that cured my 10/10 migraine for so long. Needless to say I am now having migraines again and possibly looking at getting surgery done again, because that was the best 6 months of my most recent life. I was diagnosed with GP a couple of years ago and mine was medically induced from all the migraine meds but my GP didn't get terrible untill after my head surgery and I went downhill very fast. I can honestly tell you that I was not as depressed with my migraines as I have been dealing with my GP. Gp is much harder for me. I am on the highest dose of cymbalta and trying to get my doctors to put me on abilify in conjunction because I have heard only good things about it.
Does anyone take abilify or know any info on it? You are not alone in your feelings, that is what we are here for!
Keep smiling,

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Just a quick note that I was on Abilify prior to being diagnosed with GP. It did not help my depression (but I've had major clinical depression for 15 years, so don't use me as a check to see if the Abilify works.) I do know that Abilify increases your appetite substantially. This may be a good thing as most people with GP loose weight. I gained big time. Depression medications also slow the motility of the stomach. Pain meds are worse, but many people don't' realize depression meds are also a culprit. You have to weigh the pros & con's. If the medication makes you so hungry you eat anything you can find (the cat food was looking good to me). If you need to put on weight Abilify will do it. But if you can't digest all the extra food, that may be more of a problem. There are other anti-depressants that can be added to your current prescription that don't cause increased appetite. This is something to discuss with your doctors. P.S. Depakote is worse than Abilify on increased appetite and weight gain. Please take care and good luck. Cathy

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Just from my experience any illness can cause depression. But there are many types of depression. I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression 13 years prior to getting GP. When my GP is really acting up, my depression gets serious. Our bodies need the proper nutrition. We're the unlucky ones as food is our problem. You may want to check with a nutritionist to see what other food or supplements you can try. Each case of GP is different. If you are strong enough to get any exercise (short walk to mailbox is a start) that increases the endorphins in the brain and will increase your mood. The physical activity will also help with the motility of your stomach.
I hope you are well enough and have the resources to see a nutritionist and it's always good to keep your doctor in the loop. I wish you the best. Cathy

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I hope you are doing well and it sounds like you understand the illness/depression cycle. I also believe if a person feels the depression is affecting your life above and beyond the GP, then you should seek medical help for the depression. Wellbutrin is a start, but give it some time. Like everything in life- no quick fix. Now I do know that the generic Wellbutrin does not work on many people. I guess what I trying to say is you are on the right road and I admire you. There are so many anti-depressants out there with new ones coming out all the time. It's a hit and miss on anti-depressants. Don't give up if the first one doesn't feel like it's working, call your doctor and he may change dosage, change med, add another. There are so many variables. Just don't give up, and it may get frustrating or it may be the answer first time out.

I'm trying to share what I know about depression. I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression 13 years ago. It's been a roller coaster. My GP was diagnosed five years ago. Also remember that there are several kinds of depression, many times it's situational and can be totally controlled with medication, I wish you the best. Cathy

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My 12 yr old daughter has been on Abilify and it was wonderful! and is now too. When she was on it and in the hospital, the nurses kept comminting about how happy she was to be so sick. it was the Abilify. it did cause her to be hungry and gain ALOT of weight. We tried taking her off and she became suicidal again. So she's back on and i saw it helping right away. she's on cymbalta too, but i think it really hasn't kicked in yet.
The thing i notie the most with Abilfify is she's actice she wants to go and do. in a positive way. She alaways want to ride bikes, have friends over, just go. Where as without it she just is depressed and doesn't want to do anything to feel better.

hope this helps!

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I have had severe depression all my life. Then I got Gastroparesis and IBS 5 years ago. Then more things started happening. Carpal tunnel, buldging disc in my back, arthritis developed, severe weight gain (due to medications I think) and more. I did get even more depressed when I got sick. I am taking lexapro right now for a antidepressant. It is a high dose. But I am still depressed. Probably due to my illnesses and my weight gain. When you are overweight you have no self worth. I have became isolated in my home most of the time. But yes, I believe that GP can make depression worse and even cause it.

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Jeff and all,

Depression and Anxiety Disorders are very common for people who are suffering from chronic illnesses.

Then there is also grieving period about loss of way our body works. Grieving has several stages.

1. Denial, "this can not be true"
2. Anger, "why me"
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

Each person goes through the stages differently, and each person has different time frame. The key work through the stages and accept this as being normal. Sometimes, people will go through the stages many times. I know, I went through this.

As for the folks, who can somewhat tolerate Reglan, Abilify would be a good choice. It does have similar side effects as Reglan.

Word of caution, please review medications with your doctors, and make sure, that they are not going to slow down the gut even more. Mainly the anti-depressant. I learned that long time ago.

As many of us know, our stomachs are slow to empty. So, do not expect for the "AS NEEDED" medication taken by mouth to "kick in" in 30 minutes. For many of us, it can take well over 24 hours.
Medications have to leave the stomach, in order to be absorbed in the small intestine.
Alcohol is the only "drug", that is absorbed through the stomach.

Bottom line. Let yourself feel, but have a support network in place.
Review medications with your doctor.

Hope this helps


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My then 10-year-old daughter had severe seasonal depression for two years (suicidal the second year) that responded amazingly when we brought her vitamin D level up to 65 ng/mL from the 14 ng/mL it was in the beginning. She has not had a single instance of depression since her level improved. She takes 4,000 IU/day of vitamin D (10 times the government RDA) just to maintain the 65 level and also 1500 mg of calcium.

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I am glad i found this topic. I am 26 now, and just after my 20th birthday I was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes, and within the last month I have been diagnosed with both Gastroparesis and Celiac disease.
I have been feeling very ill physically, but also mentally. I have not really left my house, I have no energy and sleep quite a lot, of course my appetite is almost non existent,... this is very troubling for me. I used to go for walks every day to a local coffee shop, go out with friends, go out with my mother for lunch or dinner, things have just taken a complete turn. Anyone else who has any advice or anything regarding this I would love to hear from you. Thanks everyone for your time, and I am sorry for venting. ;)

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