Using Anti-Depressants for Pain Relief

Chronic pain can be depressing. It hurts. It may force changes in daily activities.

As a result, you may feel hopeless and depressed. The pain may prevent you from going to physical therapy sessions. This, in turn, can set off a vicious cycle of a slower recovery, more depression, less mobility, more pain, more depression, and so on.

Antidepressants can benefit a person by providing:

  • Better sleep
  • Pain relief. Anti-depressants, particularly the tricyclic type, can help reduce chronic pain.
  • Depression relief. Nearly one out of every five people who has chronic pain also has depression.
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac®, Paxil®, Zoloft® and zyban (an antidepressant that is prescribed for helping people to quit smoking and sold as Wellbutrin®). This is a class of anti-depressants that works by increasing the amount of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, in the gaps between nerves.

These drugs have relatively few side effects. They do, however, interact in a life-threatening way with another type of drug, monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Brand name examples include Nardil®, Parnate® and Marplan®.

Teenagers who are prescribed anti-depressants should be monitored closely. Anti-depressants can sometimes increase teens' depression and thoughts about harming themselves.