Healthy Living

SSRIs for Fibromyalgia

SSRIs for Fibromyalgia

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a kind of a medical disorder that is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, which is also accompanied by issues of mood, memory, sleep, and fatigue. The symptoms of fibromyalgia usually begin after physical trauma, surgery, psychological stress, or any kind of infection. It is said that women are more likely to develop this medical condition than men. Individuals suffering from this disorder also complain of tension headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety attacks, and depression. There is no cure for this medical disorder; however, with the use of medications and therapies, one can look to control the symptoms and avoid it from worsening.


SSRIs are known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Studies are yet to discover the exact working of this type of medication on fibromyalgia, but there have been certain cases of individuals who have been taking this medication and shown signs of improvement with less fatigue and mood improvement. One can categorize these medicines as antidepressants, because doctors can also prescribe these drugs to treat depression or mood changes. When the problem related to moods becomes a major issue or symptom, then doctors often prescribe the SSRIs. These SSRI medications seem to improve the mood of the individual, along with providing relief from pain and fatigue and also solving sleep related problems.

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Common Brands of SSRIs:

Sertraline: Sertraline is known as an anti-depressant within the SSRIs group of drugs. The working of this medicine in the body is not yet fully understood; however, it is said that it positively affects the communication that happens between the central nervous system and the nerve cells. It also restores the chemical balance in the brain. Apart from fibromyalgia, Sertraline is known to treat other medical conditions, such as depression, anxiety attacks, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Certain important information one must note before starting with Sertraline is to not take this medicine if you are already taking primozide or being treated with methylene blue injections. Also, if one has taken a MAO inhibitor for the past 14 days, then avoid the use of Sertraline, since it can lead to a dangerous drug reaction. There may be suicidal thoughts after taking Sertraline; hence, one should try to stay alert to any kind of changes in the mood of the individual. Children or teens younger than 18 years of age should not be given Sertraline unless prescribed by the doctor. Before taking this medicine, inform the doctor if you are suffering from any medical condition, such as liver or kidney issues, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, past history of drug abuse, suicidal thoughts, or disorders of blood clotting. Sertraline taken during pregnancy can lead to lung related problems or other types of complications to the baby; hence, inform the doctor if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, or if you are nursing the baby. Sertraline should be taken exactly as prescribed by the doctor, or you can also check the label of the medicine for information on the dosage. Depending on the improvement of the symptoms, the doctor will look to occasionally amend the dosage for best results. Without recommendation from the doctor, do not amend the dosage, or else it can lead to side effects. Sertraline can be taken with or without food, but try to take the medicine at around the same time each day for best results. Sertraline is also available in liquid form, which should be diluted before you take it. Do not make use of any medicine for diluting the liquid. Once the mixture is prepared, ensure to drink it immediately. For the symptoms to show some improvement, it can take around four weeks’ time. Also, after the improvement, continue with this medicine unless otherwise instructed by the doctor. The common side effects of Sertraline are dizziness, feeling tired, drowsiness, changes in appetite or weight, which can lead to sudden gain or loss, insomnia or lack of sleep, decrease ability in sex, dryness in the mouth, difficulty in having an orgasm, pain in the stomach, constipation, mild series of nausea and impotence. The severe forms of side effects for which you would need to inform the doctor are convulsion or epilepsy attack, hallucinations due to high levels of serotonin in the body, increases in energy, fast heart rate, headaches, severe forms of weakness, lack of coordination, sudden risk taking behavior, being irritable, or extremely talkative.

Fluoxetine: Fluoxetine is an SSRI antidepressant. It affects the chemicals present in the brain, which can be unbalanced in people who are suffering from depression, panic attacks, or anxiety attacks. Fluoxetine can sometimes be used along with another medication called olanzapine so as to treat bipolar disorder or manic depression. An individual who is taking pimozide or thioridazine and is currently on the methylene blue injection should not be taking Fluoxetine. Also, if you are using MAO inhibitors, such as selegiline, phenelzine, linezolid, or tranylcypromine, for the past 14 days, then you should avoid the use of Fluoxetine. Also, after stopping the use of the MAO inhibitor, wait for at least 14 days. With the use of Fluoxetine, one can tend to have suicidal thoughts; hence, stay alert for any changes in the mood. Do not use Fluoxetine if you are allergic to any food or medicine or any of the contents present in the Fluoxetine. If you are currently taking any of the following antidepressants, then it is better to inform the doctor: Desyrel, Pexeva, Zoloft, Lexapro, Oleptro, Paxil, and Cymbalta. Also, there are certain medications that can tend to interact with Fluoxetine; hence, it is always better to inform the doctor about any kind of medications being taken whether prescribed or non-prescribed. So as to ensure that Fluoxetine is safe for you, let your doctor know if you are suffering from any kind of medical condition, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, past history of drug abuse or alcohol abuse, liver or kidney problems, convulsions, glaucoma, manic depression, or if you are being treated with electroconvulsive therapy. Taking Fluoxetine during pregnancy can cause issues to the unborn; hence, it is best to inform the doctor if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant and also if you are nursing the baby. Fluoxetine should be taken exactly as prescribed by the doctor, or you can follow the instructions mentioned on the label of the medicine. Do not increase or reduce the dosing without prior instructions from the doctor. Fluoxetine is available in capsule form that should be swallowed as a whole; do not crush or chew it. It can take up to four weeks for the symptoms to show some signs of improvement. Stopping Fluoxetine all of a sudden is not advisable, as it can lead to certain withdrawal symptoms. The common side effects of Fluoxetine are shaking or tremors, stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, insomnia, hallucinations, dizziness, blurry vision, sinusitis pain, flu-like symptoms, mouth dryness, hot flashes, feeling tired all the time, feeling weak, and decreased pleasure in sex. The severe forms of side effects are nausea, severe vomiting due to high levels of serotonin, vision issues, severe forms of skin reactions or allergies, skin turning pale or paining, confusion, headache, lack of coordination, and feeling unsteady due to low levels of sodium. There are certain drugs that tend to interact with Fluoxetine, such as St Johns Wort, blood thinners such as Coumadin or warfarin, any other type of antidepressant, medicines such as vyvanese and zenzedi to treat ADHD issues, fentanyl, and tramadol.

Paroxetine: Paroxetine is available as a prescription drug as well as a generic drug under the brand names Paxil and Pexeva. Apart from fibromyalgia, Paroxetine is used to treat other medical conditions, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety attacks, panic disorders, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and hot flashes that are associated with menopause. Paroxetine can be used alone or as part of combination therapy. Paroxetine works by increasing the amount of serotonin the body makes and releases it in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that is used to treat depression, anxiety, and hot flashes. One should not take Paroxetine if he or she is also taking certain other medications, such as primozide and thiordazine. Also, if one has been taking an MAO inhibitor, such as rasagiline, methylene blue injection, selegiline or isocarboxazid for the past 14 days, then do not use Paroxetine.  Individuals have suicidal thoughts when they first take antidepressants; hence, it is very much important to stay alert and monitor any changes in the mood. To ensure that Paroxetine is safe for use, let the doctor know if you are suffering from any kind of medical disorder, such as kidney or liver problems, past history of stroke, blood clotting disorders, heart related problems, epilepsy, manic depression or bipolar disorder, low levels of sodium, or glaucoma. Do not suddenly stop taking Paroxetine, since it can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Paroxetine is not being approved for anyone who is younger than 18 years of age. Inform the doctor if you are pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or nursing a baby, since it can cause harm to the baby. Paroxetine should be taken exactly as prescribed by the doctor, or you can check the label of the medicine for instructions on dosing or how to use it. The doctor can occasionally look to change the dosage based on the overall health and signs of improvement in symptoms of the individual. It is not recommended to take this medicine in smaller or larger doses without first talking to the doctor. The symptoms can start to improve from the second week of the treatment; however, it can take four weeks in some cases for the improvement in symptoms. Even if the symptoms improve, do not stop taking this medicine unless recommended to do so. Swallow Paroxetine as a whole, and do not crush or chew it. Paroxetine should be stored at room temperature away from heat, light, and moisture. The common side effects of Paroxetine are insomnia, loss of appetite, constipation, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, feeling clumsy, dizziness, changes in vision, dryness of the mouth, impotence, and difficulty in having an orgasm. The severe cases of side effects are sudden racing thoughts in the mind, no urge to go to sleep, risk taking behavior that is out of the usual, feeling extremely happy or sad, being more talkative than usual, pain in the bones, which is unusual swelling, or getting bruised easily, change in weight and eating pattern, wherein one gains or loses weight all of a sudden, bleeding from the nose, which is unusual. Due to high levels of serotonin, it can lead to hallucinations, feeling agitated or aggressive, sudden fever, irregular heart rate, nausea, severe case of vomiting, lack of coordination or feeling unsteady, severe skin reactions wherein skin turns pale, or paining in the skin.

Side Effects

Similar to all the other types of medications, SSRIs also have their own set of side effects. However, certain individuals can deal with the side effects, and some may not experience them at all. You can check with the doctor as to the various side effects associated with these medications. The side effects are mostly minor and go away once the body gets used to the medicine. However, if those side effects still tend to bother you or get worse over time, then it is best to let the doctor know about the same. However, in the meanwhile, do not stop the medications, else it can lead to any other withdrawal related symptoms. The common side effects of SSRIs are getting irritated easily, loss of sexual desire, having trouble while sleeping, dizziness, drowsiness, changes in the intake of food, and headache. The other severe side effects are having trouble while breathing, allergic reactions, such as swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat, suicidal thoughts, seizure attacks or epilepsy, irregular or fast heartbeat, vomiting or nausea that become severe, and a feeling of restlessness.

Key Takeaways

  • Fibromyalgia is a medical disorder that is seen widespread through musculoskeletal pain.
  • The symptoms of fibromyalgia are changes in mood, memory, and sleep. It also leads to fatigue.
  • SSRIs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which act as antidepressants to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia.