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Tramadol for Anxiety and Depression- Is it really Safe and effective?

According to a study, anxiety affects 275 million people worldwide, with a range of 2.5% to 6.5% of each nation's population, equating to about 4% of the world's population. In 2020, depression and anxiety increased by more than 25% worldwide. Approximately 62% of individuals suffering from anxiety and depression are female compared to male sufferers. Many medications are recommended to avoid anxiety and depression. Tramadol is among those medicines. But how does it work? Are there any side effects associated with it? Keep reading to learn more about the safety and effectiveness of Tramadol for anxiety and depression.

  • Psychiatriy

By Aliya Anchan

13th Sept '22


Tramadol first became a commercially available drug in 1995. Tramadol is a pain reliever that is prescribed for moderate to severe pain. It is also used to treat migraine headaches. 

It belongs to the group of medicines called opioid analgesics (pain relievers). It is most beneficial for people who suffer from constant pain and have not responded well to milder pain relievers. 

Tramadol, a widely used analgesic, can act as an effective off-label anti-anxiety and antidepressant. In Tramadol, the chemicals released from dopamine can make a person feel relaxed and less pain. In turn, this could lower levels of anxiety temporarily. Evidence suggests that low-dose Tramadol is a frequently prescribed, generally safe, and quick-acting antidepressant for people with depression. According to a survey, Tramadol was reported to be an effective antidepressant by 94.6% of patients (123/130) who provided ratings submitted to User Reviews for Tramadol to Treat Depression.

Tramadol is an opioid analgesic that reduces pain perception by preventing the brain from receiving pain signals. It reduces pain by working on the central nervous system (CNS).

Wondering what is the usage of tramadol?  Let's see below!

What is Tramadol Used For?

Tramadol is comparable to painkillers like codeine, hydrocodone, and morphine. It binds to opioid receptors in the brain to stop the transmission of pain signals.

  • The use of Tramadol is for the temporary relief of moderate to severe pain. As it blocks the transmission of pain signals from nerves in the central nervous system to the brain, reducing pain perception. It should only be used when other non-opioid pain relief methods have failed to control pain or are intolerable.
  • Tramadol was generally considered a safe, effective, and quick-acting medication for adult patients to use for relief from Depression, and anxiety at low therapeutic doses in the absence of interactions with other medications.
  • Usually, it is not advised to use Tramadol to treat acute and chronic pain.

After reading this, you must have the following question,

Can Tramadol treat anxiety? 

Tramadol has been found to be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, with few reported side effects. Tramadol is also prescribed as a preventive treatment for chronic neuropathic pain conditions.Tramadol may be beneficial for individuals dealing with anxiety and depression related to smoking cessation.

Neuropathic pain is caused by damage to the nerves in the body. It does not cure these conditions but can provide significant relief from the symptoms of stress and depression.

According to patient reports and a review of the biological literature, adult patients found Tramadol to be a usually safe, effective, and faster medication for relief from depression at low therapeutic doses without interactions with other medicines.

Using painkillers to relieve anxiety without a doctor's direction would probably cause more problems because it will not address the underlying causes.

Have you ever heard that intake of Tramadol keeps you at ease? Let's see!

Does Tramadol keep you calm and awake?

Tramadol has addictive properties despite not being as potent as each other. You can feel calm and relaxed. However, it can cause you Insomnia. Tramadol interferes with a person's regular sleep patterns (even if it is prescribed) by making it more likely for them to fall asleep during the day and stay awake at night.

Read on to learn more about this drug and its effectiveness against anxiety & depression.

How Does Tramadol Work Against Depression and Anxiety?

  • Tramadol is an opioid that helps increase the serotonin level in the brain. The increase in serotonin helps in the regulation of mood and reduction in anxiety. 
  • Tramadol also helps reduce the stress hormone cortisol and is, therefore, helpful in managing anxiety. 

Are you just thinking about when you will start seeing results after taking Tramadol?

Here is the answer.

How long do Tramadol tablets take to be effective?

Generally, it starts to relieve pain within an hour.

There are two types of Tramadol tablets

  •  fast-acting forms (used for short-term pain management)
  •  Slow-release ( used for long-term pain management)
TypesFast-acting tramadolSlow-release tramadol
Starts workingwithin 2 to 3 hourswithin 10 to 12 hours 
Effects lastUp to 6 hours Up to 24 hours

Tramadol reduces anxiety and depression within 30 to 60 minutes of intake, and its effects last for 6 - 24 hours.

However, using tramadol for a long period of time can cause serious side effects like serotonin syndrome, seizures, and dependence. Therefore, Tramadol should be taken as per the prescribed dosage and for the short term. With the low cost of tramadol and its effectiveness in treating anxiety and depression, this drug is definitely a great option for those suffering from stress and mood disorders.  

Available in the form of

  • Drops
  • Injections
  • Tablets 
  • Capsules

Every drug is associated with some level of risk if not consumed as prescribed. Lets us discuss the side effects of tramadol in detail. 

Why should one avoid taking Tramadol? 

The side effects of Tramadol can differ from person to person, from mild to severe. Generally speaking, the risk of side effects rises with dosage. You risk experiencing adverse side effects if you take more than is recommended by Doctor.

In other words, it might occasionally result in dependence. It is more probable if you use Tramadol frequently or don't take it strictly as recommended by the doctors.

Dr. Michael J. McGrath M.D., a Board-Certified Psychiatrist, Medical Director, of The Ohana Luxury Alcohol Rehab has quoted that - 

There is the potential for abuse with tramadol. It can lead to opioid use disorder, which can result in overdose and death. Tramadol can cause drowsiness. You should not use heavy machinery when using this drug until you know how it affects you. And it is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Here is the list of some most common side effects of Tramadol, including depressed mood, slow breathing and dry mouth.

All opioids, including Tramadol, have side effects that can be fatal. According to a study, based on the doses, it can create sleep disturbance on two consecutive nights. Tramadol should be taken as prescribed by your doctor. You might experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking Tramadol suddenly. Even if you take Tramadol precisely as your doctor directs, you risk developing a dependence on it. To lessen your risk of harm, including misuse, abuse, and addiction, always take medications exactly as directed by your doctor.

You must be wondering who should not take Tramadol. Let's continue reading. 

Who should not take tramadol?

Tramadol should not be given to children between the ages of 12 to 18 age group who are

  • obese
  • suffer from neuromuscular disorders
  • lung conditions
  • obstructive sleep issues.

As these conditions may increase breathing issues and many serious problems like panic attacks. It has been seen that pregnant women should not take Tramadol, as it is extremely dangerous and not recommended.


Tramadol Usage Warnings During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding


It is not recommended to take tramadol when pregnant. It may be safe to use in the later trimesters but it is very important to assess the situation of a pregnant woman before prescribing anything to them.

While the use of tramadol while breastfeeding is not prohibited, it is also not recommended to take tramadol when tending to an infant. Remember that tramadol is an opioid, which is why it can have unsafe reactions in the infant that is being breastfed. In severe cases, it can also cause lumps in the breast and also make it difficult for women to breastfeed their infants.


Tramadol Usage Guidelines for Pregnant Women: Tramadol has risks for pregnant women, so you need to talk to your doctor before taking it or any other drug. Long-term use of opioids during pregnancy, whether for medical or non-medical reasons, can cause physical dependence in the newborn and neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome soon after birth. 

Long-term maternal use of opioid analgesics during pregnancy may result in respiratory problems. It has been demonstrated that this medication can cross the placental barrier, which causes an umbilical cord to motherly vein serum ratio of 0.83. Pregnant women should not take tramadol because it could cause serious side effects on the unborn baby.

There's no proof that Tramadol is safe for pregnant women, so check with your doctor before taking this. In fact it is always advisable to always contact a doctor before taking any medicine during this period.  or any other drug during pregnancy. 

Now you must be thinking about why Tramadol is not advisable in pregnancy or how tramadol affects pregnancy. This article explains in detail why you shouldn’t take Tramadol if you’re expecting and what alternatives are available if your doctor recommends it. There have been no sufficient and reliable studies on expectant mothers.

Continue reading to know more!

If a woman takes tramadol while pregnant, the drug can cross the placenta and reach the baby. In the baby, it’s converted to a metabolite called O-desmethyl tramadol (ODTM). Tramadol and ODTM have been associated with several adverse effects on the fetus, including

  • lower birth weight
  • smaller length, and 
  • abnormalities in the cranium and upper limbs. 
  • reduce or delay the growth rate of the fetus
  • increase the risk of miscarriage

If you’re pregnant and need pain relief, talk to your doctor about the best treatment for you.

 Keep reading for more details about whether taking Tramadol while nursing is safe or not.

Tramadol Usage in guidelines for breastfeeding mothers: 

The risk of side effects and other complications is lowest with a low dose of Tramadol for breastfeeding mothers. Although the amount of Tramadol passes through breast milk is very low and unlikely to cause any problems for your baby. However, it is important to note that not enough research has been done to determine the long-term effects of breastfeeding infants.

Hence the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) didn't approve this medicine for preoperative obstetrical medication or post-delivery analgesia in nursing mothers.

Every medicine has some dosage limitation. Let's read more about it in detail.

How to take Tramadol and when?

Depending on how sensitive and severe your pain is, how you responded to previous painkillers, and whether you experienced any side effects, your doctor will determine the appropriate Tramadol dose for you. Due to the potential for addiction to Tramadol, it is always advisable to follow your doctor's advice. 

You must have heard that medicines have some adverse effects while interacting with other substances. Would you like to know which food or drugs should be avoided with Tramadol? Here it is.

Are there any food or drug interactions people should avoid while taking tramadol? 

Tramadol can be taken either on an empty stomach or with food. Understanding the drug-food interaction and how to take the medication is crucial for your safety.

Drug-food interactions can occasionally have adverse effects and even lessen a drug's effectiveness.

  • Food Interactions with Tramadol

Grapefruit Juice: Grapefruit juice raises the levels of Tramadol by inhibiting the intestinal cytochrome enzyme, which is essential for the first-pass metabolism of the drug.

  • Alcohol and tramadol Interactions

Tramadol can have dangerous side effects, including drowsiness, numbness, impaired coordination, loss of consciousness, and increased euphoria, when combined with alcohol.

  • Tramadol interacts with other painkillers

Tramadol is safe to take with aspirin, ibuprofen, or paracetamol (aspirin is only suitable for most people aged 16 and over).

You can purchase over-the-counter pain relievers from pharmacies, including codeine, a drug similar to Tramadol. Painkillers with codeine that are sold in pharmacies include co-codamol, Nurofen Plus, and Solpadeine. 

Avoid combining these painkillers from the pharmacy with Tramadol because you risk experiencing adverse side effects. Some medications may alter how Tramadol functions and raise your risk of experiencing side effects. When Tramadol is misused or combined with other drugs, it can serve as a stimulant and produce mild euphoric effects similar to heroin.

It is better to tell your doctor about any medications you are taking before intake.

Disclaimer: The above-mentioned information is for knowledge purposes. Using any medication without a medical professional's guidance is strictly not recommended. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Can generalized anxiety disorder with panic attacks be hereditary?

Can generalized anxiety disorder with panic attacks be triggered by a traumatic event?

Can meditation help manage generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks?

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Question and Answers

Mujhe raat ko nind nhi aati h, sucide thought aate h, logo se milne me problem hoti h

महिला | 23

These might be caused by something deep under the sadness or anxiety. I suggest that you see a medical doctor or a licensed counselor who can help you in this way.

Answered on 23rd Feb '24

Dr. Vikas Patel

Dr. Vikas Patel

Why I’m being so sad once every morning before goti work?

Male | 23

Feeling like crying every morning before work may be a signal of depression or anxiety. It is necessary to consult a mental health professional,` who will diagnose the condition and provide appropriate treatment. Never hesitate to ask for support and care for your mental health.

Answered on 22nd Feb '24

Dr. Vikas Patel

Dr. Vikas Patel

dr . i use risperidone now i stopped it. after risperidone i use tryptophan and tyrosine supplements but problem is my serotonin and dopamine level not increase it decrease my neurotransmitter level .this problem come i use risperidone haloperidol drugs. i use herbal (mucuna pruriens ,5htp) and amino acid supplements for neurotransmitter it same my serotonin dopamine level decreased. dr why it happened ?how to it cure. 😔

Male | 23

Addressing issues related to neurotransmitter levels requires consultation with a psychiatrist or neurologist. Discontinuing medications such as risperidone and haloperidol can lead to a drop in serotonin and dopamine levels. Additionally, the use of supplements like tryptophan, tyrosine, 5-HTP, and mucuna pruriens may also affect neurotransmitter levels. It's essential to consult a specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment of any potential imbalances beforehand.

Answered on 19th Feb '24

Dr. Vikas Patel

Dr. Vikas Patel

Sleep disorder with talking,moving ,punching etc in dreams.Twice fallen from bed in dream.

Male | 64

It seems that you have parasomnias which is a kind of sleep disorder that causes abnormal movements, behavior, and emotions during sleep. It is recommended to contact a sleep specialist for accurate diagnosis and therapy. They can help find the triggers of sleep disorders and suggest the best treatments.

Answered on 16th Feb '24

Dr. Vikas Patel

Dr. Vikas Patel