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Original Research

Paroxetine for Somatic Pain Associated With Physical Illness: A Review

Prakash S. Masand Meera Narasimhan Ashwin A. Patkar

Published: July 14, 2006

Article Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this article is to review the prevalence of somatic pain with and without depression or anxiety and the pharmacologic effects of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor paroxetine on pain in physical conditions with and without comorbid depression or anxiety.

Data Sources: MEDLINE and PsychLIT/PsycINFO database. Keywords included depression, anxiety, pain, somatic, antidepressants, and paroxetine. Only English-language publications and abstracts were considered.

Study Selection: More than 100 articles that reflected the prevalence of somatic pain in patients with physical illness with and without comorbid depression or anxiety and that evaluated the efficacy of antidepressants in this population were identified and reviewed.

Data Synthesis: Nearly two thirds of patients with major depressive disorder suffer from a physical illness, and about one fifth of patients with chronic physical illness are depressed. Both of these comorbidities pose diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Therapeutic effects of antidepressants on pain improvement in patients with chronic physical illnesses and comorbid depression/anxiety have been attributed to the antidepressant or anxiolytic properties of these drugs. However, tricyclic antidepressants have demonstrated analgesic properties in patients with physical illness both with and without depression. The review looks at evidence for the efficacy of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor paroxetine on pain in physical illness with and without depression and the mechanisms for the relief of pain and depression.

Conclusions: The efficacy of paroxetine for depression and anxiety comorbid with physical illness looks promising. Studies also allude to evidence linking the analgesic properties of paroxetine with its serotonergic and noradrenergic activity. Large randomized controlled trials within specific antidepressant classesand also comparing dual-action antidepressants are warranted that could shed some light on the unique advantage of paroxetine over other antidepressants.

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