Antidepressants for Orthopaedic Conditions

Chronic pain can be depressing. It hurts. It may force changes in daily activities. As a result, you may feel hopeless and depressed. The pain may prevent you from going to physical therapy sessions. This, in turn, can set off a vicious cycle of a slower recovery, more depression, less mobility, more pain, more depression, and so on.

Antidepressants may benefit a person who has an orthopaedic condition by providing:

  • Better sleep
  • Pain relief (Antidepressants, particularly the tricyclic type, can help reduce chronic pain)
  • Depression relief (Nearly one out of every five people who has chronic pain also has depression)

Common antidepressants used to treat arthritis and orthopaedic conditions include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac®,   Paxil®,   Zoloft® and Zyban® (an antidepressant that is prescribed for helping people to quit smoking and sold as Wellbutrin®). This is a class of antidepressants that works by increasing the amount of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, in the gaps between nerves.

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®.

Teenagers who are prescribed antidepressants should be monitored closely. Antidepressants can sometimes increase teenagers' depression and thoughts about harming themselves.