Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic disease of widespread and debilitating pain whose cause is unknown and whose risk factors are poorly understood. It is often comorbid with rheumatoid and other pain disorders as well as psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression. Although they are not officially approved for this indication, antiepileptics and antidepressants are often used to treat fibromyalgia. The tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), particularly amitriptyline, are among the most common treatment strategies. Because of the poor tolerability of the tricyclics, the newer antidepressants have been widely tested in fibromyalgia. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the reversible monoamine oxidase inhibitors do not seem to be particularly helpful. The serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), duloxetine and milnacipran, on the other hand, have been shown in placebo-controlled trials to offer significant relief to patients suffering from fibromyalgia. Although no direct comparative studies have been performed, these compounds appear to be as effective as the TCAs but much better tolerated. The effectiveness of the SNRIs as well as other dual acting antidepressants, such as mirtazapine, but not the SSRIs, implies that a dysfunction of both serotonin and norepinephrine neurotransmission probably exists in fibromyalgia. The effectiveness of antidepressants appears to be independent of their effect on comorbid depression
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