Cochrane Summaries

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Antidepressants for treating neuropathic pain

Saarto T, Wiffen PJ
Published Online: 
15 August 2012

A number of medicines used to treat depression (antidepressants) are effective in treating pain associated with nerve damage (neuropathic pain). At least one third of patients with neuropathic pain who took traditional antidepressants (such as amitriptyline) obtained moderate pain relief or better. There is also evidence that Venlafaxine, a newer antidepressant, has similar effectiveness to traditional antidepressants. However, approximately one fifth of those who take these medicines for pain discontinue the therapy due to adverse effects. There is very limited evidence that some other newer antidepressants, known as SSRIs, may be effective but more studies are needed to confirm this. Neuropathic pain can be treated with antidepressants and the effect is independent of any effect on depression.