Antidepressants. A Weapon Against Chronic Pain

Source: WebMD

Many of the drugs and medications developed that are now used as remedies for chronic pain were originally intended to treat other conditions.

Antidepressants are usually prescribed for consumption around bedtime as they do cause drowsiness. They also happen to be more efficient if the cause of the pain is nerve-related. Examples include shingles or diabetic neuropathy. Furthermore, antidepressants help eliminate sleeping problems and fatigue which can be caused by chronic pain.

Antidepressants treating nerve pain

Antidepressants may provide relief from the following types of pain: diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage from shingles (postherapeutic neuralgia), nerve pain caused by peripheral neuropathy, spinal cord injury, stroke, migraines, facial pain, tension headache, fibromyalgia, and lower back pain.

There are several classes of antidepressants based on the way they work and their chemical structure. The classification includes serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, tetracyclic antidepressants, etc.

The most effective in this regard are tricyclic antidepressants. They include amitriptyline, imipramine (Tofranil), Nortriptyline, Clomipramine (Anafranil) Doxepin, and Desipramine (Norpramin).

Side effects

Undoubtedly, every medication produces some side effects. These effects may vary due to individual dispositions. It is recommended to ask your pharmacist about them. Should you experience swelling of your lips, tongue, throat or face, immediately call for help.

Common side effects pertaining to the use of antidepressants include dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, and drowsiness, headaches, weight gain, constipation, reduced sexual drive and insomnia, blurred vision, difficulty in urinating, nausea, heart rhythm problems, difficulty in thinking clearly or focusing, or lightheadedness.

To avoid these effects, the doctor will start by prescribing lower doses and gradually increasing the amount. Other types of antidepressants with fewer side effects are common nowadays, with serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNIRs) being a few. 

And while antidepressants can help against chronic pain, you need to consult a doctor before taking them.