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 July - August 2004
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COVER STORY: Casey Martin was thrilled to play professional golf, but he never thought he'd be thrown into the spotlight because of his disability. . .
When Your Pain is Not Being Treated
WARNING: Beware of Bible Cures!
God is in the Details
Sun, Sun, Find the Shade
Why Can't I Make People Understand? Book Excerpt
When God Hollers, "No!"
Talk Over Tea with the Editor
Tell Us Your Thoughts
Strive to Thrive Health News
Joy Bites
Strength in the Shadows
Volunteer Corner
Book Review: What Would Jesus Eat?
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My doctor gave me Celexa for chronic debilitating pain. I haven't tried it yet because I found out it is an anti-depressant and I am an active person who doesn't need this. However, I am beyond desperation with my pain. Is 10 mg. of Celexa a viable treatment for chronic pain? - Scarlette

A lot of people wonder, "If I am not a depressed person, is it worth the risk in side effects to take an anti-depressant for pain?" It is not unusual for one drug to have more than one use. Aspirin is an example of a versatile drug used to treat headaches, reduce fevers, prevent heart attacks, and calm inflammation. Even if you don't suffer from headaches, you might try aspirin if you are at risk for a heart attack.

Similarly, there have been several studies showing that certain medications used to fight depression are also effective in the treatment of chronic pain. In fact, antidepressants are over 74% more effective than placebo (sugar pill) in chronic pain studies. It is now common practice to try these medications to relieve pain.

Unfortunately, any drug might cause side effects and you are wise to consider that possibility. Common side effects of the serotonin-boosting antidepressants such as Celexa may include nausea, drowsiness or restlessness, and sexual dysfunction. These side effects can occur even if you are taking the medication for pain rather than depression.

As with most medications, you might experience no side effects at all, mild side effects, or side effects that you find to be intolerable. There is no way to predict which ones you may experience-if any. Once your doctor has determined that an antidepressant would be safe and possibly helpful, the next step is up to you.

If you decide to take the medication, it doesn't have to be forever. Give it time to work, then re-evaluate. Do you feel better overall? Always arrange a follow-up visit to determine whether a medication should be continued, adjusted, or stopped.

Amy Fogelstrom Chai, MD, MS, is an Internal Medicine Specialist with additional training in the area of medical research methods. Her experiences as a patient helped to redirect her priorities to home life and Christian ministry.


Send your question to Dr. Chai at Rest Ministries
PO Box 502928, San Diego, CA 92150 or rest@restministries.org

 


This article was featured in our July/August 2004 issue.
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