Role of Antidepressants in the Treatment of Migraines

What do you mean by Antidepressants?

Antidepressants are the common choice of medications prescribed by doctors to patients in order to treat the symptoms of depression. The antidepressant changes occur in a type of chemical called neurotransmitter which transport messages between the cells in your brain.

Besides depression, antidepressants can treat other conditions like hot flashes, eating disorders, chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety and panic disorders.

What are the different types of antidepressants?

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are the main types of antidepressants.

How can antidepressants treat migraines?

Even the doctors are unable to explain the reasons behind the occurrence of migraines. A disturbance in the neurotransmitter can be a reason as per the Mayo Clinic. Serotonin levels also downfall in this period. That’s why antidepressants can prevent migraines.

In order to prevent the migraine, doctors prescribe tricyclic antidepressants because these are effective in treating migraine. A study found that even SSRIs and SNRIs also prevent migraine and side effects also less when compared to tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).

You need to consult your doctor if you get regular migraines that are not responding to the prescribed medications.

Antidepressant Side effects

You will be in trouble with the use of antidepressants. Your doctor may recommend you to use SSRIs as these drugs cause the fewest side effects to compare to tricyclic antidepressants.

Restlessness, dry mouth, sexual dysfunction, nausea, nervousness, and insomnia are the possible side effects of Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Drowsiness, blurred vision, urinary retention, constipation, and drops in blood pressure when standing are the common side effects associated with tricyclic antidepressants.

You have to discuss with your doctor regarding which type of medication works best for you with fewer side effects.

Is it safe to use antidepressants?

Taking antidepressants in order to prevent migraines is safe but there are chances of these antidepressant drugs may interact with other medications. It’s better to tell your doctor about the prescription medications you take.

You should tell your doctor about the previous medical conditions you suffered. These include Enlarged prostate, high cholesterol, glaucoma, and your history of heart disease.

Serotonin Syndrome

When you have too much serotonin levels available in your body, it will lead to a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. It occurs due to the antidepressant drugs or illicit drugs you are taking in order to treat depression.

Dextromethorphan, herbal supplements such as St. John’s wort medicinal plant, and illicit drugs can interact with your medication and raise the serotonin levels in your body.

Unresponsiveness, confusion, seizures, shivering, dilated pupils, rapid heart rate, muscle rigidity, overactive reflexes, muscle spasms, and tremors are the possible side effects of antidepressants and you have to consult your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.


One of the most approved off-label uses of antidepressants is the treatment of migraines. Current research advises that antidepressants can be used as an efficient preventive treatment if the person doesn’t react in a proper manner to other treatments. It would be helpful to have a word with your doctor about the usage of antidepressants if you are experiencing migraines that don’t react to other forms of treatment.



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