Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a condition characterized by chronic pain, and people who suffer from it are often overly sensitive to stimulus that would not normally be painful. Other common symptoms include fatigue, muscle stiffness, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating or remembering (fibro fog), and depression.
While there is currently no cure for the disorder, there are several ways to manage the discomfort. One method of treatment is the use of antidepressants. In addition to its traditional use -- treating depression -- antidepressants can be helpful to those with FMS by elevating the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects sleep, memory and learning, mood, muscle contraction, depression, and several other functions. Because of its significance in the bodys equilibrium, serotonin is perhaps the most targeted neurotransmitter in the treatment of various disorders, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that is important for attentiveness, emotions, sleeping, dreaming, and learning.
These chemicals are associated with experiencing depression, as well as pain and fatigue. By increasing the levels of these chemicals, those with FMS can reduce the experience of these symptoms.
There are several types of antidepressants available for those with FMS:Tricyclic antidepressants: These are used as a sleep aid in people with fibromyalgia. They also relax muscles, and help heighten the effects of endorphins, the bodys feel good chemicals. Some examples of tricyclic medications used to treat fibromyalgia include amitriptyline and cyclobenzaprine. Both have been proven useful treatments.Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): These stop the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin by specific cells, allowing the serotonin to remain at healthy levels in the body. SSRIs include Prozac and Zoloft.*SSRIs may be prescribed along with a tricyclic antidepressant. Studies have shown that a combination therapy of the tricyclic amitriptyline and the SSRI fluoxetine resulted in greater improvements in the study participants fibromyalgia symptoms than either drug alone.Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): a type of antidepressant medication that increases the levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine by inhibiting their reabsorption into cells in the brain. Why use SNRIs over SSRIs? Norepinephrine affects energy and mental alertness, while serotonin helps with mood and pain. Because SNRIs raise both serotonin and norepinephrine, they combat more than one cause of depression. Medications in this group of antidepressants are sometimes called dual reuptake inhibitors.If you are suffering from FMS -- with or without depression -- antidepressants may ease your discomfort. Talk to your physician and learn if antidepressants are an option for you.