Antidepressant Medication for Chronic Pain

Source: Mayo Clinic

There is a widespread use of antidepressants for treating chronic pain. It is justified because depression is a common problem experienced by people with chronic pain.

Chronic pain is unrelenting, persistent, and usually lasts for a period of more than 12 weeks. It adversely affects people’s lives and reduces the individual’s daily performance of activities, hindering work among other things.

The medication and drugs for treating chronic pain were mostly intended to treat other conditions, so although antidepressants are not specifically for treating chronic pain, they are widely used.

Doctors can make adaptations to the medication, if the symptoms of depression include chronic pain or if it is a side effect of the medicine. Both symptoms often overlap and are managed with a combination of antidepressant therapy and variety of pain treatments.

Apart from treating depression, antidepressants are often used as remedies for chronic pain syndromes such as nerve related pain disorders. They are also used to treat, arthritis, migraines, facial pain, lower back pain, pelvic pain and tension headache.

About antidepressant therapy

The antidepressant drugs work by affecting those brain regions that are ruled by neurotransmitters which are chemicals in our brains. Their primary function is to relate messages between the brain cells. They work by affecting the neurochemicals such as serotonin and norepinephrine.

Antidepressants increase the level of these neurotransmitters which in turn block the pain signals. There are various types of antidepressants, including tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), etc. Some of the antidepressants include fluoextine , citalopram , bupropion, and venlafaxine, etc.

Although the primary use of antidepressants is for treating depression, they are also largely used to relieve chronic pain and help individuals with distress, discomfort and persisting pain.

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