Antidepressants have been known to help those with fibromyalgia for a while now, and because of that, doctors will often include them in a treatment plan, even if you don’t have any signs of mental health issues quite yet.
The group of antidepressants that seem to have the most impact is known as Tricyclic anti-depressants.
Which antidepressants fall under this category, and how can they be used in order to help relieve fibromyalgia symptoms and problems? Let’s take a closer look.
What Are Tricyclic Anti-Depressants?
Of course, the first thought that likely goes through your mind is “what is a tricyclic antidepressant anyway?”
Great question, since most people have only heard of standard antidepressants, and maybe the term “SSRI.”
But that’s not what tricyclic anti-depressants are, and honestly, they are not used as often as other types of antidepressants anymore.
Basically, what tricyclic anti-depressants do is chill out the brain by going after the natural chemicals in the brain (called neurotransmitters) and making it so that a person can feel relief from their depression and anxiety symptoms.
The neurotransmitters sometimes get absorbed by the brain, thus causing a person to feel depressed.
These block the neurotransmitters from being absorbed, which in turn make it so that there is more available, which helps to live the person’s mood.
It’s actually a very interesting process, and they have been used to help with mental health issues for a very long time.
Tricyclic anti-depressants include Doxepin, NortripryLine, Trimipramine, and AmitirptyLine, among others.
These antidepressants are not used as often as other types anymore because of the side effects and problems that sometimes come up alongside them.
But, in cases where other types of antidepressants are not working as they should, these will be used in order to help get the desired effect.
What Makes Them Different Than Other Types of Anti Depressants?
Basically, what makes these so much different than other antidepressants is that they’re pretty much the last step when a psychiatrist is trying to figure out what to do with their patient’s medication.
When the more common route of SSRI’s has been exhausted, they will turn to these instead. But why is it a last resort?
What makes them so much different that psychiatrists don’t really prescribe them unless there is no better choice for a particular patient?
The side effects are a huge part of it. You can feel exhausted, dizzy, lightheaded, or confused.
Older adults that take them may have balance issues. Headaches are quite common, as is nausea. They are also highly addictive.
Even though you should never go off of any sort of medication unless directed by a doctor, the withdrawal symptoms for tricyclic antidepressants are much worse.
You may see the same withdrawal symptoms as other addictive medications, including lethargy, muscle cramping, irregular heartbeat, sweating, and more.
It can cause a lot of problems for you if you are not being watched by a doctor, and if you already have fibromyalgia, you may have a flare up if you go off of the medication.
All that being said, it’s the same as other antidepressants in other ways.
For example, you will not usually notice a difference in any of your symptoms until you are a couple of weeks into your treatment plan.
In some cases, it could take up to six weeks. Once you get used to the medication, a lot of the side effects will go away as well (if they don’t, talk to your doctor about it).
How can Tricyclic Anti-Depressants Help With Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
There are a few things that tricyclic anti-depressants can do in order to help people deal with their fibromyalgia symptoms in a healthy manner.
First off, because they make certain chemicals in the brain work more effectively, and those chemicals can play a role in reducing pain, it makes it easy to make the conclusion that, yes, these can play a huge role in helping to reduce pain.
If nothing else, they make your pain threshold a little higher, which means you can cope with any pain you may feel more easily.
Tricyclic antidepressants can also play a huge role in helping the body to relax more.
One huge issue that many people with fibromyalgia have is that they can’t get their muscles to relax, either because of anxiety or as a reaction to the pain that is going on.
As the muscles relax, the fibromyalgia patient becomes a lot more flexible and they are able to go through with their activities of daily living a lot more easily.
Joints will bend more easily and it will become less likely for muscles and tissues to become inflamed.
Last but not least, there is a lot of proof that tricyclic anti-depressants help with sleep. As we’ve discussed in other areas of the website, having a regular sleep schedule is a huge part of keeping your fibromyalgia symptoms under control.
If you aren’t sleeping enough, your body can’t recover properly, and you’re going to feel very tired throughout the day. Chronic fatigue usually goes hand in hand with fibromyalgia.
By allowing the body to relax and calming the mind down, tricyclic anti-depressants can help you get a good night’s sleep – thus fighting off at least some of the issues that fibromyalgia sufferers often have with fatigue.
And these are just some of the most common symptoms related to fibromyalgia.
There are some cases where Tricyclic Anti-Depressants can play a huge role in some of the lesser known symptoms as well.
If you are suffering from depression or an anxiety disorder alongside your fibromyalgia, then you may want to consider discussing this option with your doctor.
It could end up helping your quality of life, and it could give you some of the relief from your pain that you’ve been seeking out.