10 Off-label Uses of Antidepressants

Preventing Migraines
Migraines can be debilitating, and can come with an array of unpleasant symptoms including nausea and light sensitivity. © eternalcreative/iStockphoto

As many as 36 million American men, women and children suffer from migraine headaches. While many people will have one or two migraine attacks in a given month, some people can count on having at least one migraine each week, and some have as many as 15 each month [source: MRF]. Make no mistake, a migraine isn't simply a bad headache. A migraine attack can be debilitating, and it can cause vision problems, nausea, and a high level of sensitivity to light and sound, among a host of other problems.

Those who experience frequent migraines may be prescribed an array of different strategies for preventing attacks, including the use of antidepressants [source: MRF]. Routinely, albeit off-label, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are used as migraine prophylaxis. Amitriptyline (Elavil), for example, has proven to be moderately effective in preventing migraine, with as many as 70 percent of migraine sufferers reporting the medication provided relief [source: Consumer Reports].

The dual serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor venlafaxine (Effexor) also shows promise in preventing migraines, but selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (Prozac) don't appear to have similar benefits.