Antidepressant Drugs for Spine Conditions

Chronic pain and depression sometimes go hand-in-hand. If you are hurt and are unable to move as well as you used to, you may feel hopeless and depressed. The pain may prevent you from going to physical therapy sessions. This can set off a vicious cycle of a slower recovery, more depression, less mobility, more pain and more depression.

Antidepressants can have several benefits for a person who has a back or neck condition, including:

  • Better sleep. Low doses taken before bed can help people who have chronic pain sleep.
  • Pain relief. Antidepressants, particularly the tricyclic type, can help reduce chronic pain.
  • Depression relief.

Common antidepressants used to treat chronic pain and symptoms of spine conditions include:

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil®, Endep®)
  • Desipramine (Norpramin®, Pertofrane®)
  • Imipramine (Tofranil®, Norfranil®)
  • Nortriptyline (Pamelor®, Aventyl®)
  • Serotonine reuptake inhibitors, such as Prozac®, Paxil®, Zolof® and zyban (an antidepressant that is sometimes prescribed for helping people to quit smoking and sold as Wellbutrin®). 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®.

To learn more about these and other types of drugs and their side effects, go to Medline Plus drug information.