Antidepressants do not cure myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). They may relieve symptoms
such as fatigue, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, and pain. But they
will not affect the course of the illness or the speed of recovery.
Antidepressants that are commonly used to treat
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (for example, Prozac), paroxetine
(Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa), and escitalopram
Tricyclic antidepressants, such
as amitriptyline, desipramine (Norpramin), imipramine (Tofranil), and
Other antidepressants, such as bupropion (Wellbutrin), trazodone, venlafaxine
(Effexor), and mirtazapine (Remeron).
When these medicines are used to treat ME/CFS, they may be given
in lower doses than the amounts used to treat depression.
choice of medicine may depend on the symptoms that are most bothersome, because
each medicine has somewhat different side effects. For example:
If you have trouble sleeping, you may need a
medicine to take at bedtime that causes drowsiness.
If you have
trouble concentrating on daily tasks, you may need a medicine to take during
the day that can help with concentration and clear thinking.
If depression has been diagnosed along with ME/CFS,
antidepressants may be used to treat depression also.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. Talk with your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide.
Do not suddenly stop taking antidepressants. These medicines
must be gradually tapered off under your doctor’s supervision.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD – Internal Medicine Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerMartin J. Gabica, MD – Family Medicine