Antidepressants and Pain

Antidepressants and Pain

Posted on: March 13th, 2023 by Neurohealth Associates

A recent study conducted by the University of Sydney and colleagues took an overview of systematic reviews comparing any antidepressants with placebos for any pain condition among adults to examine the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of antidepressants for pain.

Antidepressants and similar drugs have been prescribed for many reasons outside of what they were designed for. Prescription antidepressants, however, have been scrutinized when it comes to application and effectiveness in relation to pain management.

Antidepressants for Pain

Antidepressants can be prescribed for pain in certain situations, particularly in cases where the pain is related to a chronic condition or neurological disorder. Common instances of pain management prescriptions for antidepressants include:

Chronic Pain. Antidepressants can be effective in managing chronic pain, such as back pain or fibromyalgia. Some antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), work by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain that can help modulate pain signals.

Neuropathic Pain. Neuropathic pain is a type of pain that is caused by damage to the nerves. Antidepressants can be effective in managing neuropathic pain by blocking the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters, which can help reduce pain signals.

Migraines. Some antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have been found to be effective in preventing migraines.

A quick note: Antidepressants are not typically the first line of treatment for pain. Antidepressants can have side effects and may interact with other medications, so it’s important to work closely with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment.

Do Antidepressants Help Pain Management?

The University of Sydney researchers found that none of the reviews (26 reviews, 156 studies, and over 25K participants) provided high-certainty evidence for the efficacy of antidepressants for pain for any condition. 

The study overview adds to mounting evidence challenging the use of certain medicines for pain. In consequence, a real opportunity is emerging to focus more on what living with pain means for individuals and to change how we think about pain.

Helping With Antidepressants & Pain

Talking to a medical provider is the first step anyone should take when it comes to issues with antidepressants and pain. Medication management should be left in the hands of licensed medical practitioners. That said, if you have been prescribed multiple antidepressants for pain management you may want to consider seeking a second opinion. Antidepressants aren’t ubiquitous with pain management medications and should be considered alternative or niche options.

Combining medications with things like healthy eating, exercise, therapy, and certain training regimens is often the best way to help rehabilitation–both mental and physical rehabilitation. Finding a program that suits individual needs is often the best strategy when it comes to complex medically-related issues.

Neurofeedback Training at NHA

Here at Neurohealth Associates, we specialize in Neurofeedback training. Neurofeedback may be helpful for training your mind, especially if you are unsure about putting yourself or your child on medication. This easy, noninvasive training can painlessly improve your mental health condition and outlook on life. Schedule a consultation with NeuroHealth Associates today and find out how we can help you.

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