Is Sertraline effective for chronic pain relief? (3 facts)

This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of whether Sertraline can be considered effective for pain relief. Additionally, this article will explore research studies and the benefits of Sertraline for chronic pain management.

Is Sertraline effective for chronic pain relief?

Yes, Sertraline is effective for pain relief of certain conditions. While its role in pain management remains unclear, recent studies have explored its potential as an analgesic.

Sertraline, classified as a selective serotonin receptor inhibitor (SSRI), primarily acts by elevating serotonin levels in the brain. Traditionally, it is the preferred choice of treatment for managing depressive and anxiety disorders. Nevertheless, there has been growing interest in investigating its possible efficacy in alleviating chronic pain in some individuals (1,2).

Chronic pain is defined as persistent or recurrent discomfort lasting for three months or more, whether arising from idiopathic origins or as a consequence of conditions such as trauma or cancer (2). 

If you are struggling with chronic pain,  you should seek immediate medical attention from your primary healthcare provider.

What does research suggest?

There is limited research linking chronic pain management with Sertraline. However, several studies have linked the use of SSRI medications with chronic pain management.

A study reviewing antidepressants for chronic pain management in adults aimed to differentiate and rank the efficacy of antidepressants in effective pain management. The study suggested that there is a gap in determining the efficacy, safety and tolerability of antidepressants in the management of chronic pain. However, the study suggested that chronic pain treatment with SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants was effective for the management of fibromyalgia and chronic-tension-type headaches (2,3).

A separate review study on how to manage chronic pain with SSRIs hypothesized the effectiveness of SSRI medications in managing chronic pain (4).

Furthermore, a study on the use of antidepressants in pain management indicated that Sertraline is the most effective SSRI medication in pain management for most cases of chronic pain (5).

Which types of chronic pain are managed by Sertraline?

Sertraline manages certain types of chronic pain including (3,4,5):

  • Fibromyalgia – Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and tenderness. Sertraline, when used in combination with other medications such as duloxetine, proves beneficial in managing fibromyalgia. Although the precise mechanism is not well understood, some individuals have reported pain relief and an improvement in their quality of life.
  • Post-operative pain – Sertraline also holds potential in reducing post-operative pain and enhancing an individual’s recovery.  It can reduce the intensity of pain experienced after surgery, leading to shorter hospital stays and improved patient outcomes.
  • Neuropathic pain and Central sensitization – Neuropathic pain refers to abnormal nerve pain resulting from nerve overstimulation or damage. This type of pain can be effectively managed by Sertraline due to its modulation of serotonin and other neurotransmitters involved in pain perception. Additionally, through this mechanism, Sertraline can help modulate sensitization and provide relief in conditions like complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and chronic tension-type headaches.
  • Pain associated with depression and anxiety – By managing depression and anxiety disorders, Sertraline indirectly provides pain relief by addressing the underlying mental health condition.

What factors influence the management of chronic pain with Sertraline?

While Sertraline shows promise as a potential adjunctive treatment for pain relief, its effectiveness in chronic pain management is influenced by various factors including:

  • The type of chronic pain – The type of pain is significant in determining whether Sertraline is an appropriate treatment option.
  • Individual variability – The effectiveness of Sertraline in individuals can vary due to patient-unique factors such as genetics.
  • Dosage and treatment duration – The prescribed dosage and duration of treatment can impact its ability to manage chronic pain.
  • Medication interactions – Potential interactions between Sertraline and other concurrent medications can affect Sertraline’s efficacy and safety.

What are the precautions for Sertraline in chronic pain?

When taking Sertraline for chronic pain management, it is important to observe the following precautions:

  • Always follow your prescriber’s guidance regarding treatment duration and dosage.
  • Attend regular follow-up sessions with your doctor.
  • Monitor your response to the medication.
  • Do not discontinue Sertraline without consulting your doctor.
  • Inform your doctor if you are using any other medications or supplements or any underlying conditions.


In this article, we have explored the potential benefits of Sertraline in chronic pain management. Additionally, we have also discussed the types of pain this medication can address and the factors that influence its effectiveness in the context of chronic pain management. 

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Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline [Internet]. PubMed. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Oct 5]. Available from:



Birkinshaw H, Friedrich C, Cole P, Eccleston C, Serfaty M, Stewart G, et al. Antidepressants for pain management in adults with chronic pain: a network meta-analysis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [Internet]. 2021 Apr 7 [cited 2023 Oct 5]; Available from:



Ferreira GE, Abdel-Shaheed C, Underwood M, Finnerup NB, Day RO, McLachlan A, et al. Efficacy, safety, and tolerability of antidepressants for pain in adults: overview of systematic reviews. BMJ [Internet]. 2023 Feb 1 [cited 2023 Oct 5];380:e072415. Available from:



Patetsos E, Horjales-Araujo E. Treating Chronic Pain with SSRIs: What Do We Know? Pain Research and Management [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2023 Oct 5];2016:1–17. Available from:



The Use of Antidepressants in Pain Management [Internet]. Practical Pain Management. 2015 [cited 2023 Oct 5]. Available from:


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