The Use of Antidepressants For Pain Relief Is Not A Solution

We humans are endlessly resourceful and experimental. I suppose I should add “hopeful” as well since we are continually looking for a magic pill for chronic pain relief. Perhaps “delusional” is more apt. As a society, we endure rampant addiction, suicide, and violent behavior in pursuit of this magic pill. Yet despite these efforts, experience has shown us time and time again that “there is no safe and effective pharmaceutical for pain.” In fact, I came across this reminder in a recent article which states, “Unfortunately, when a pain patient goes to most physicians seeking help for chronic pain, they (the doctor) will reach for their prescription pad because that is all that they have been trained to do. However, there is no safe and effective pharmaceutical for pain. (Italics mine). The best results for pain relief are found in a wide array of alternative pain treatments.”

Pills Create Profound Problems And Greater Pain.

To highlight the “experimental” nature of this quest, back in the 1960s some doctors started prescribing anti-depressants to patients who experienced chronic pain. This practice became popular throughout the 1970s and is still in use by some doctors today. It was common – and in some cases still is – to prescribe opioids and antidepressants simultaneously. This is a deadly combination, and the risk of overdose is exponential. Today, it is widely known that antidepressants are also addictive and cause suicidal thoughts.

And yet, the powers-that-be still do not acknowledge the greater benefits of, nor do they prescribe alternative non-addictive, non-surgical methods for pain relief. This continues to astonish me.

The problem is that there is a psychological aspect to all pain. According to a recent article in an industry journal, “Since October of 2004, the FDA has required anti-depressants also carry black-box label warnings indicating that their use in adolescents may increase the risk of suicidal ideations and behaviors. Two years later, the FDA added the warning for young adults ages 18 to 24. There have also been many reports of suicide in older adults after starting antidepressants and many case reports of antidepressants causing violence, including homicide.”

We Must Demand Better

I know we are better than this. As a society, as medical professionals, parents, and patients, we need to pay attention and not be intimidated to ask questions and not just ask for but demand alternatives to medications for pain, anxiety, and depression. These alternatives include chiropractic, massage, yoga therapy, acupuncture, among others. The overprescribing of yet another medication is not helping one bit. I acknowledge that there are cases of chronic pain when medications are necessary but in most cases they are not. 

How much more can we take before we understand the importance of working with the body’s natural healing capacities to overcome pain? Hands on treatments like massage and chiropractic, movement that realigns the body and awakens the spirt such as yoga and tai chi are just a few alternatives that may not be a magic pill that relieves pain instantly, but over time will contribute to individual and collective healing