Ultram is a brand name for the prescription drug known as tramadol. This drug is classified as an opioid analgesic - a pain reliever - and is not FDA approved to treat depression. However, some people do say that using it helps them get relief from their depressive symptoms, despite the fact that there is no scientific proof.
Pain Relief and Elevated Mood
When individuals who take tramadol report mood elevation, there is no evidence that this is a direct result of the medication having antidepressant effects. It's likely this boost in mood is instead because of the drug's ability to relieve pain.
A Harvard University study shows that the more pain an individual feels, the worse they may feel psychologically. This could make some patients feel the drug itself is treating their depression. Instead, what it is doing is allowing them to improve their quality of life.
Since Ultram is not approved to be prescribed as an antidepressant, there are no statistics available regarding the drug's success rate in treating that condition specifically. It is not a recommended treatment for either major depressive disorder or dysthymia.
How Ultram Works
Ultram is a synthetic opiate agonist used for moderate to severe pain. It is not approved to treat any other disorder. Typical uses include managing pain from surgeries, including oral surgery, and pain from serious medical conditions. An opiate agonist changes how an individual's body senses pain by closing off pain receptors in the brain.
Ultram is dispensed in two ways. There is a shorter time-span version in tablet form given every four to six hours and also a longer-lasting time release tablet which can be taken once a day. According to AddictionBlog, the typical dose is 100 milligrams, and it takes about two hours for peak effectiveness.
The drug can also be given by IV, under a doctor's supervision. In this case, the pain-relieving effect is almost instantaneous, as it immediately hits the bloodstream and travels to the brain.
Some side effects for Ultram include, but are not limited to:
There are numerous other side effects to consider before taking Ultram. Overdosing on Ultram can be fatal, so be sure to follow your doctor's instructions exactly even if the drug doesn't appear to be working. Some individuals are simply immune to the pain relieving effects.
Since Ultram can cause a feeling of euphoria in patients, there is a real risk of addiction or dependence. This drug is not recommended for those with addiction histories. In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration released a statement that included, among other things, warnings about addictions.
A small number of individuals using Ultram, less than 1% according to the manufacturer, can develop serotonin syndrome. Symptoms include fever, tremors, twitching or spastic reflexes, agitation, coma and even death in the most severe cases. The risk can increase when Ultram and SSRIs are taken together. Pharmacology Weekly advises that coadministration be done only with extreme caution, and preferably not at all.
Real Help for Depression
It's unlikely a doctor will prescribe Ultram for depression, especially without trying approved drugs first. For more information on depression and treatment, speak with your physician.