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How Effective are Antidepressants for Pain?

By K. Gierok
Updated May 17, 2024
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Though antidepressants are not commonly thought of as a medication used to treat high amounts of pain, when prescribed properly, they appear to be an effective form of treatment for this condition. Antidepressants aid in pain management through their ability to form new neurons, which often are damaged during periods of chronic pain. Though there are numerous antidepressants that have been proven to be effective in the management of pain, patients must be patient when it comes to determining which combination of medications is best. In some cases, it can take weeks, or even months for the antidepressants to provide results.

To understand whether or not using antidepressants for pain management is a good choice, it is essential to understand first why doctors prescribe these medications for those suffering from high amounts of pain. In most cases, high amounts of pain that last for significant periods of time will result in damage to neurotransmitters and other neurons in the brain. Additionally, chronic pain can, in some cases, lead to severe brain atrophy. In this manner, antidepressants appear to be highly effective for pain management, as they have been found to lead to the formation of new neurons, and aid in maintaining brain size.

The most commonly prescribed antidepressants for pain management include amitriptyline, anafranil, norpramin, and other similar medications. These products are most effective when it comes to treating chronic pain associated with migraines, nerve damage, pain in the lower back, and even tension-related headaches. Other antidepressants that may provide some relief from those suffering from chronic pain include a group of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Typically, these medications are used as a last resort for those who have not achieved relief through other forms of treatment, as side effects associated with their use can be severe.

In order to achieve optimal results when it comes to using antidepressants for pain, it is important that those suffering from this condition allow adequate amount of time for the medication to begin working. According to some studies, antidepressants can take several weeks or even months in order to create the new neurons necessary for pain relief. During this time, those suffering from chronic pain are typically encouraged to maintain contact with their physician or medical team in order to track the progress of the medications. In some cases, it may take a substantial period of time to determine which combination of antidepressants are best.

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