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U.S. News & World Report Interviews Dr. Williams About Medications That Treat Multiple Conditions



The antidepressant amitriptyline is also used to prevent and help reduce the frequency of migraines, says Dr. Vernon Williams, director of the Kerlan-Jobe Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles. Some physicians prescribe it off-label for people who have difficulty sleeping, too, he says. It can cause such side effects as confusion, numbness, skin rash, nausea, blurred vision, tingling in your arms and legs, headache, constipation and diarrhea. Research suggests it can also cause weight gain and increased blood pressure, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. It should be safe in low doses.


Gabapentin is an anti-epileptic medication, or an anticonvulsant. It’s also approved by the FDA to treat neuropathic pain; for example, it can be taken to treat the pain caused by herpes zoster lesions, or shingles, Vernon Williams says. The medication is also used off-label to help stabilize some people with mood disorders. Possible side effects include, rashes and, in rare cases, thoughts of suicide, research has shown.


Some doctors prescribe the antidepressant Remeron on an off-label basis to people who need to gain weight, Vernon Williams says. It prompts a voracious appetite for carbohydrates in 20 to 30 percent of those who take it. Whether it’s used for its FDA-approved purpose or as an off-label treatment, the medication can cause dizziness and dry mouth.

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