Can Antidepressants Help Manage Pain?

Minnesota Physical Medicine Blog

antidepressants Pain and depression are closely linked in the brain, and medications used in depression can be helpful in the controlling pain.  Some antidepressants directly impact pain, while others only affect depression.

Antidepressants are most helpful in treating pain caused by damage to nerves or by an overactive nervous system (aka neuropathic pain).  Specifically, antidepressant medications can help treat the following painful conditions:

Acute injury and surgical pain may be helped, but is still being studied.

Types of Antidepressants

There are two types of antidepressant medications that are used to control neuropathic pain:

  1. Tri-cyclic antidepressants (TCAs), such as amitriptyline, Nortriptyline, and desipramine
  2. Serotonin/noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as Cymbalta and Savella

Antidepressants such as Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, and Effexor have no affect on pain.  These medications decrease nerve transmission and nerve sensitivity. The TCAs have many side affects including dry mouth, low blood pressure, sedation, and urinary…

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