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  • Pain relief is not an approved use for Celexa. Celexa is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders.

    However, some clinical trials have shown that antidepressants are somewhat effective in relieving chronic pain. Antidepressants are believed to help pain conditions by affecting dopamine and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters related to pain.

    SSRIs like Celexa mostly affect serotonin receptors, not dopamine or norepinephrine. 

    SSRIs may be less effective than other antidepressants for pain relief. Despite some encouraging studies, further research may be needed to approve any class of antidepressants for pain relief.

    Antidepressants For Pain Relief

    Antidepressants may be seen as a potential treatment for pain in patients with both depression and neuropathic pain. 

    Neuropathic pain is pain caused by the nervous system not working properly. Forms of neuropathic pain include diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and musculoskeletal pain.


    Only one type of antidepressant, duloxetine, is approved for pain relief. Duloxetine has been successful in treating both depressive symptoms and chronic pain in several clinical trials. Duloxetine is available as the prescription Cymbalta.


    Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) have shown some promise as analgesics. Venlafaxine, which can be both a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, may also be effective in treating pain. By comparison, citalopram and paroxetine may be less effective for pain management.

    Downsides Of Using Antidepressants As Pain Medications

    SSRIs are not approved for pain relief. Taking antidepressants for pain relief can be an off-label use for them, but they may also be abused for pain relief.

    Compared to other antidepressants, citalopram may be less effective than duloxetine but more effective than fluoxetine for treating pain. Citalopram may also be less effective for pain than proven pain treatments, like tramadol, acetaminophen, or even exercise.

    Tricyclic antidepressants can come with a host of side effects, such as weight gain, blurred vision, and increased heart rate. These side effects may outweigh their analgesic effects in some cases.

    Proven Uses For Celexa

    Celexa is approved to treat serious mood disorders like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. 

    Even when taken as directed, Celexa has its risks. Common side effects of Celexa include drowsiness, dizziness, and dry mouth. SSRIs can worsen suicidal thoughts in young adults and patients with a history of suicidal ideation.

    Taking Celexa with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can cause serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening adverse effect. There is also a risk of withdrawal symptoms if Celexa is stopped after taking it for over a month.

    Treatment Options For Chronic Pain

    Chronic pain comes in many forms, including neuropathic pain, spinal cord pain, and phantom limb syndrome. 

    In many of these cases, antidepressants are not the first recommendation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, may be recommended instead if inflammation is involved.

    Historically, patients have been prescribed opioids like oxycodone or codeine for chronic pain. As more evidence comes out for the potential risks of opioids, doctors may be less inclined to prescribe them.

    Other treatment options for chronic pain include physical therapy, psychological therapy, and nutritional supplements. Treatment for chronic pain often tries to balance effectiveness with a lack of side effects.

    Treatment Options For Mood Disorders & Substance Abuse

    SSRIs like Celexa are one of many effective treatments for mood disorders. Other classes of antidepressants include SNRIs and tricyclic antidepressants. Some antidepressants have off-label uses for pain relief, but all come with their own risks.

    Mood disorders and substance use disorders are often seen in patients at the same time. When combined, these problems can make it difficult for patients to take medication to help with their problems. Substance abuse may even make a patient’s mental health worse.

    Severe mental problems and substance abuse often require professional treatment. To find a treatment option that works for you and your loved ones, contact our helpline today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Food and Drug Administration - Citalopram Celexa
    Matrix Medical Communications: Psychiatry - Pain, Pain, Go Away

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on June 24, 2022
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