Is Tramadol an Opioid or Antidepressant?
While Tramadol is an opioid and not an antidepressant, it has antidepressant qualities because of how it acts on serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.
Tramadol is a prescription medication that is generally used to treat moderate to severe pain and is a synthetic opioid pain reliever. It has two different actions in the body. Since it is an opioid analgesic, meaning it attaches to the receptors in your brain and changes its perception of pain. It also does work as an antidepressant by prolonging the actions of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.
The Origins of Tramadol As An Opioid
Medical professionals have researched this opioid pain medication over the last decade. It was originally developed in Germany in the 1060s and was approved in the United States for use in the mid-1990s. While it is an opioid medication, it is recognized as having less potential for abuse and addiction in comparison to other opioids on the market, like oxycodone or hydrocodone. While there is still a potential for abuse and addiction, like with any opioid, it is considered to be a safer alternative than traditional opioid medications. Tramadol is often prescribed instead of other opioids because it does not directly bind to the opioid receptors in the brain as others do, so it is much weaker.
Some studies that were conducted also found alternative uses for this medication than just pain relief including restless leg syndrome, anorexia, and even depression. Because there have been so many findings regarding this drug treating other conditions than just pain, research is still going on in regards to these other treatments.
Is Tramadol Used for Depression?
The research behind using Tramadol to treat depression has received the most attention, For depression, Tramadol works in the same way as other SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and many researchers have validated Tramadol working similarly in the brain as antidepressants such as Effexor. According to the National Institutes of Health:
Tramadol (Ultram, Ultracet) is a centrally acting synthetic opioid with analgesic efficacy comparable to codeine. Antinociception is attributed to a low but effective affinity for the mu-opioid receptor (μ), as well as reuptake inhibition of the monoamines norepinephrine (NE) and serotonin (5HT). Dual-action antidepressants mirtazapine (Remeron), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and most notably venlafaxine (Effexor), which tramadol is closely related to in structure, also inhibit NE and 5HT reuptake.
While Tramadol is closer to an opioid than an antidepressant, it does still have many antidepressant qualities because of the way it acts on serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Tramadol is only approved for the treatment of pain at this time and is not approved for the treatment of depression and cannot legally be prescribed for it.
Safe Treatment for Tramadol Addiction
Tramadol is known to be less addictive than other opioids on the market, it still should be taken with precaution. This does not mean that Tramadol is not still addictive. Tramadol can still get you high; therefore still has a likelihood for abuse and addiction. The effects of Tramadol abuse and addiction are seen when a person begins to withdrawal from the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can even happen even if the person is taking it as prescribed due to the physical dependency that is developed. Withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and include symptoms such as body pain, difficulty sleeping, nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, hallucinations, body tremors, and respiratory distress.
Tramadol addiction should be treated in the safety of a treatment center. If you or someone you love has been struggling with a Tramadol or other opioid addiction, please feel free to give us a call today. Getting the help you need isn’t always easy, but it is worth it. Let Evoke Waltham help you along the way.