We all know antidepressants as a class of medication intended to help alleviate mood disorders, including depression and anxiety. You might be surprised to learn, however, that antidepressants have a wide range of uses that extend far beyond the realm of mood disorders. Here are some examples.
One of the side effects of certain types of antidepressants is drowsiness, which is part of why doctors often turn to these drugs to help patients suffering from sleep issues. Taken at low doses right before bedtime, these drugs generally have few downsides. Additionally, sometimes the underlying cause of insomnia is related to a mood disorder, which means that antidepressants not only encourage sleep but are helping treat the actual root of the problem as well.
Strangely enough, certain types of antidepressants seem to help alleviate and prevent migraines and other headaches. Though not approved by the FDA for this purpose, doctors commonly prescribe tricyclic antidepressants for patients who have persistent headaches, usually migraines. Though over-the-counter medication is generally sufficient for people suffering from only the occasional headache, for others headaches can be a debilitating, high frequency occurrence that no over-the-counter drug is able to tackle. These are the candidates most likely to find relief with tricyclic antidepressants.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, or PMDD, is a severe form of the more commonly known PMS. Sufferers of PMDD endure intense anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, anger, fatigue, insomnia, bloating, and mood swings every month before their period comes. Sounds pretty terrible, doesn’t it? Thankfully, antidepressants have been shown to be very useful in combating PMDD. Of course, antidepressants should not be used to treat the more manageable symptoms of regular PMS, but if you are diagnosed with PMDD antidepressants could be a huge help.
- Smoking Cessation
If you’re a smoker, you probably know you should quit. Maybe you’ve already tried, but found the process too difficult and are back into the habit. This time, look into antidepressants to help you along the way. Two antidepressants in particular, bupropion (approved by the FDA for smoking cessation) and nortriptyline (prescribed off label for this purpose), are especially effective for those looking to quit. Both require a doctor’s supervision and are prescription-only, so talk to your physician if you’re serious about giving up smoking.
- Chronic Pain
Chronic pain plagues countless Americans, and because its causes are often murky or seemingly untreatable sufferers often struggle to find relief. Surprisingly, researchers have found that—you guessed it—antidepressants can be very helpful for chronic pain sufferers. We don’t know exactly how antidepressants relieve chronic pain, but experts believe they seem to have some sort of positive effect on neurotransmitters. An added bonus to using antidepressants for chronic pain is that they can help treat the depression and anxiety often associated with the various causes of chronic pain.
If you think antidepressants could help you, consult with your doctor. If you’re interested in learning more about how different types of pharmaceuticals can help people, consider a career in pharmacology like pharmacy technician training.
[box_light]Madeline Marshall lives and writes on a variety of topics from her current residence in Santa Cruz, CA.[/box_light]
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