Antidepressants Reduce Fibromyalgia Symptoms

January 22, 2009
Shivani Parmar, MPH

Researchers have found new evidence that antidepressants can reduce the severity of symptoms associated with fibromyalgia syndrome.

Researchers have found new evidence that antidepressants can reduce the severity of symptoms associated with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Published in the January 14, 2009 issue of JAMA, the study conducted by Winfried Häuser, MD, of Klinikum Saarbrücken, Saarbrücken, Germany, and colleagues examined efficacy of antidepressants in treating FMS.

Fibromyalgia has an estimated prevalence of 0.5%-5.8% in North America and Europe. The authors noted that “Fibromyalgia syndrome is … associated with high direct and indirect disease-related costs. Effective treatment of FMS is therefore necessary for medical and economic reasons.”

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 18 randomized controlled clinical trials involving a total of 1,427 participants. Within the data, the researchers “found large effect sizes of tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants (TCAs) for reducing pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances; small effect sizes of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for reducing pain; small effect sizes of serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) for reducing pain, sleep disturbances, and depressed mood; and small effect sizes of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) for reducing pain.”

Researchers concluded from the evidence that antidepressant medications were “associated with improvements in pain, depression, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and health-related quality of life patients with FMS.”

The authors also noted that further study is needed to examine the long-term effect of antidepressants in FMS as well as to determine how to better target the therapy in patients with FMS.