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Chronic Fatigue: Antidepressants - Topic Overview

Antidepressants do not cure CFS. They may relieve symptoms such as fatigue, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, and pain. But they will not affect the course of the illness or the speed of recovery.

Antidepressants that are commonly used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) include:

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When these medicines are used to treat CFS, they may be given in lower doses than the amounts used to treat depression.

The choice of medicine may depend on the symptoms that are most bothersome, because each medicine has somewhat different side effects. For example:

  • If you have trouble sleeping, you may need a medicine to take at bedtime that causes drowsiness.
  • If you have trouble concentrating on daily tasks, you may need a medicine to take during the day that can help with concentration and clear thinking.

If depression has been diagnosed along with CFS, antidepressants may be used to treat depression also.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisoryon antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. Talk with your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide.

Do not suddenly stop taking antidepressants. These medicines must be gradually tapered off under your doctor's supervision.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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