Tricyclic Antidepressants For Shingles Treatment

Shingles is a virus which is closely related to chickenpox; the virus which causes chickenpox (herpes varicella-zoster) is also the one which causes shingles. Shingles is caused by a reactivation of the herpes varicella-zoster virus which resides dormant in the sensory nervous system following a bout of chickenpox; the results are an infection of the nerve and a rash which follows along the route of the nerve.

Shingles will last around 2-4 weeks and there is no cure, however medication can be used to ease the symptoms of the virus. Tricyclic antidepressants for shingles treatment are often needed to help with cases of severe and prolonged pain and have numerous benefits.

What are tricyclic antidepressants?

Tricyclic antidepressants for shingles treatment are a relatively new form of shingles treatment having been used to treat depression and other psychiatric problems. In modern times, this type of medication has been replaced by modern depression medication but has proven benefits in the use of controlling pain caused by shingles.

Tricyclic antidepressants work by not allowing the brain to reabsorb serotonin and norepinephrine, the two hormones that create happiness in the brain. By preventing the reabsorption of serotonin, a person can begin to feel happy as opposed to depressed when pain is more recognisable.

Why are tricyclic antidepressants used in the treatment of shingles?

Tricyclic antidepressants for shingles treatment are used to assist the brain in releasing serotonin; this will counteract the release of pain found at the nerve endings. Nerves are effectively dampened down by the constant release of serotonin without reabsorption, this means than the symptoms of pain are felt less and can remain under control.

The use of these antidepressants is sometimes combined with a quicker acting painkiller such as opioids which can be used until the tricyclic tablets have the desired effect. Commonly used variations of this medication are amitriptyline, imipramine and nortriptyline, a GP will prescribe the medication on a much lower dose than what is used to treat depression and dosage can be upped until pain is effectively managed. Tablets are generally taken each night before bed.

Disadvantages of tricyclic antidepressants

There are many benefits when it comes to the use of tricyclic antidepressants for shingles and they are also used often to treat postherpetic neuralgia which is a chronic nerve pain which arises as a result of shingles. However, this medication also has its drawbacks.

This kind of antidepressant does not provide instant relief from the symptoms of pain and is often required to be taken for an extended period of time before the effects are felt. They are also unable to be immediately ceased and will require that a patient is weaned of the medication over a considerable period of time.

Tricyclic antidepressants for shingles treatment also come with various side effects that can cause some discomfort. Common side effects include:

  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Weight gain
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced sexual desire


Side effects of the medication may also include a worsening of the symptoms of depression.




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