Drugs traditionally used to treat depression are also effective in easing widespread pain, sleep disturbances and dismal moods associated with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), according to a large-scale analysis published today in JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association. The study confirms earlier research about the meds' effect on symptoms associated with this mysterious disease.
Fibromyalgia, an often overlooked disorder believed to cause widespread muscle pain, sleep disturbances, depression and fatigue, affects up to 12 million people (4 percent of the U.S. population), nearly 11 million of them women. The degree of debilitation caused by the disease ranges "from very little to total," says Roland Staud, a professor of medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, adding that he has known some patients who have been bedridden for as long as a year because of symptoms, which typically appear between ages 40 and 60 and may last for the remainder of sufferers' lives.
Researchers do not know the cause of FMS and there is currently no cure. But psychiatrist Leslie Arnold, director of the Women's Health Research Program at the University of Cinncinnati's College of Medicine, says that both genetics and stress appear to play a role. Only two drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat fibromyalgia—Cymbalta made by Eli Lilly (one of the antidepressants reviewed in this study) and Pfizer's Lyrica, an Rx to control seizures and pain.
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