The cause of diffuse esophageal spasm (DES) has not been clearly established, and effective treatment is lacking. To determine whether a psychosomatic approach can be effective in treating DES patients, nine patients and 26 healthy volunteers were studied. Esophageal manometry and psychological testing were performed in both groups. The psychological background of the DES patients was investigated. Psychiatric diagnoses were made according to the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd edition, revised. The authors started psychosomatic treatment with isosorbide dinitrate for 1 month, then prescribed serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants for an additional month. Anxiety and depression scores were substantially higher for the DES group than for the control group. Five of the nine DES patients (56%) were diagnosed as having major psychiatric disorders. Only one patient showed improvement with isosorbide dinitrate, and eight patients improved with antidepressants. These initial observations suggest that psychosomatic treatment with antidepressants may be effective in the treatment of DES.
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