Study Personalizes Antidepressant Choice For Chronic Pain Relief

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Because over the counter pain medications rarely alleviate chronic pain, doctors may prescribe antidepressants for their chronic pain patients.

Antidepressants, at lower doses than required for depression treatment, can bring relief to people suffering from conditions such as fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, migraines, and osteoarthritis.

However, antidepressants create side effects. Predicting how well a person may tolerate an antidepressant’s side effects would be a factor in its success, according to researchers at the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus in Dresden.

“Understanding adverse effects and their impact on patients’ quality of life is crucial in modern clinical medicine and poses a substantial challenge to clinicians who face a exponentially growing range of available medical therapies,” says lead researcher Dr. Timo Siepmann.

To help doctors match pain sufferers with compatible antidepressants, the investigators completed a study of reported adverse effects associated with frequently used antidepressants. The data were gathered from clinical literature detailing antidepressant side effects over the past 20 years. The side effects included drowsiness, dizziness, palpitations, dry mouth, sexual and urinary dysfunction, weight gain, and hypertension.

The study revealed no antidepressant was clearly preferable, and almost all were linked with significant side effects. The data also showed that people may better tolerate certain side effects more than others. Drowsiness would, for instance, be unacceptable for a cab driver, or heavy machinery operator, but might be acceptable, even beneficial, for someone with insomnia.

It’s hoped the study results will help physicians prescribe antidepressants for chronic pain that best match each patient’s health profile, and lifestyle. Still, “further research is needed to improve general treatment recommendations and enable…therapy which is tailored to the patient's individual health situation and includes non-pharmacological strategies…” said Dr. Siepmann.

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: NEC Corporation of America


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Fibromyalgia is a prevalent condition that affects many people in the United States. Approximately 3.7 million Americans have Fibromyalgia. That is 1 in every 73 people.

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