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ANTIDEPRESSANTS AS A TREATMENT FOR FIBROMYALGIA…

If, like me you have had Fibromyalgia for some time now you will probably have been given an antidepressant to try for the pain, or maybe even tried a mixture of these type of medications.

If you read all the information on the drug it could immediately put you off trying one but I’ve always felt you should always try before you decide if you want to stay on this type of meditation long term.

I will use my own personal usage of these as an example. Back in 2002 when I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia I was put onto ‘Fluexetine (Prozac)’ of 20 mg once a day. I seemed to get along well with this during the early years but it wasn’t long before they also offered me Amitryptyline (Elavil) of 10mg x 3 going up to 50mg, which I took alongside my Fluexetine.

I stayed on both these for a number of years but as I increased the Amitryptyline, it left me with one particular side effect of a very dry mouth. I mean really dry whereby I would sometimes struggle to get my words out and I also started having problems with my gums. My dentist suggested eating sugar free gum but to be honest with you I’m just not a lover of gum.

The pain team decided to then change me from Amitryptyline to Nortryptyline (Pamelor) as it was known to not cause as many side effects and could help me sleep better at night which was another symptom of Fibromyalgia that I was suffering from. The dosage was the same dosage as the Amitryptyline.

Fast forward 16 years and this year I was also advised to come off the Fluexetine as I had been on it for so long. They told me to come off it gradually and to see how I felt. I did exactly as they said and even though I was only taking 20mg I struggled so hard not just because I’m in more pain but from feeling extremely low and tearful, which isn’t me.

So, I decided I would go back onto Fluexetine (it’s still on my repeat) but it made me realise how you really can get addicted to these types of medications and that maybe someone should have suggested I tried to come off it a long time ago. I’ve never shied away from taking any medications they have offered me for pain relief and believe you really do have to take them for a few months to see any difference but it is also important that long term use should be taken into consideration.

On the website My Fibro Team they have a page on all the medications offered for Fibromyalgia and its overview of the three I have mentioned are – ‘Nortryptyline Pamelor is a prescription medication originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1964 for the treatment of depression. In cases of fibromyalgia, Pamelor can help reduce pain. The drug name of Pamelor is Nortriptyline.

Pamelor should be used with caution in people with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, or glaucoma. People who are recovering from a recent myocardial infarction (heart attack) should not take Pamelor.

Pamelor is a tricyclic antidepressant. It is believed that Pamelor works in cases of fibromyalgia by changing the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain.’

And ‘Amitryptyline Elavil is a prescription medication originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1961 for the treatment of depression. The drug name of Elavil is Amitriptyline. In cases of fibromyalgia, Elavil can reduce pain and improve sleep problems and fatigue.

Elavil should be used with caution in people with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, glaucoma, liver or kidney problems, high or low blood pressure, diabetes, seizures, trouble urinating, or alcohol dependence. Elavil is not suitable for use by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Elavil is a tricyclic antidepressant. It is believed that Elavil works in cases of fibromyalgia by interfering with nerve signals that communicate pain.

And as for Fluexetine- Prozac is a prescription drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1987 to treat depression. In people with fibromyalgia, Prozac can help improve mood and reduce fatigue. Prozac may also help reduce pain, sleep problems, and fatigue. Prozac is also known by its drug name, Fluoxetine hydrochloride.

Prozac should be used with caution in people who have a history of depression, seizures, anorexia, glaucoma, and heart problems, as well as those who are taking diuretics.

Prozac is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) class. Prozac is believed to work by changing the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. 

The My Fibro Team website has lots more information on medications taken for Fibromyalgia and is well worth reading if you are trying something new. Do you take any of these medications and if you have did they help with your pain?

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DEALING WITH DEPRESSION WITH CHRONIC PAIN …

Depression is quite common with people suffering from chronic pain. I mean who wouldn’t feel a bit low when trying to cope with constant pain but there is help out there to deal with this type of depression. Research shows that some of these antidepressants may help with some kinds of long-lasting pain.

Web MD state that Doctors don’t know exactly why antidepressants help with pain. They may affect chemicals in your spinal cord — you may hear them called neurotransmitters — that send pain signals to your brain. 

It’s important to note that antidepressantsdon’t work on pain right away. It can be a week or so before you feel any better. In fact, you may not get their full effect for several weeks.

After my second spinal surgery I was put on a very low dose of an antidepressant which I took over a period of 20+years. I am still on this antidepressant ( Prozac) even though over the many years I haven taken it there have been numerous articles on the pros and cons of taking it for so long. In fact, only last year the Professor of Medicine whom I call my Medicine Man who I see on a regular basis, suggested that maybe I should stop taking it.

I started with reducing it to one every other day and had no ill effects except that I wasn’t feeling as perky as I usually am. I put it down to the fact that at that time last year I ways constantly going back and forth to stay at my Dads so that I could go and be with him in hospital. He was in three months and my sister and I would do three week shifts of going in for most of the day over a period of three weeks then coming home for a rest. Sadly Dad passed away in hospital by which stage I had already started increasing my drug to nearly what I had been on before as I had an even bigger reason for feeling low.

On the NHS website they say that even though a type of antidepressant called tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) weren’t originally designed to be painkillers, there’s evidence to suggest they’re effective in treating chronic (long-term) nerve pain in some people.

Chronic nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain, is caused by nerve damage or other problems with the nerves, and is often unresponsive to regular painkillers, such as paracetamol.

Amitriptyline is a TCA that’s usually used to treat neuropathic pain. I also take this for my neuropathic pain and it also helps me to sleep better.

We are all different and try to deal with chronic pain, stress and even loss in different ways but for me personally I felt this one little pill I took every morning worked for me. When I went back for my review with my Medicine Man I told him what I had been through and said I felt for me personally it was one drug I would like to continue taking indefinitely if he felt that was safe. He said that every single person will have different views and reactions to different types of antidepressants but if I had found one that I truly felt helped me ‘feel good’ every day no matter what I was going through then he was happy for me to take it indefinitely.

I know there are lots and lots of alternative things to try for any type of depression from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to Group Therapy and much more but I do feel that some people are nervous of taking medication on a long term basis but if that works for you, then why not.

Try everything that is available to you and when you find something that works for you then stick with it even it is taking a daily dose of medication. Feeling low and depressed is awful and most people in chronic pain must feel that at some stage but life really is to short to feel that way on a daily basis so why not try something just for you to help you feel better on the outside even if the pain on the inside is still there.

Some great websites and organisations that can help with chronic pain and depression are Away With Pain.

BLB Solicitors have a long list with links to UK support and help with depression from pain. The NHS also has details on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the UK and how to find a therapist.