Anticonvulsants are widely used for treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are not first-line drugs but are commonly prescribed medicines for chronic pain. The majority of patients are hesitant to use these drug groups, thus their compliance remains an issue.Objective
To compare patient compliance and the effectiveness of 2 SSRIs (paroxetine or citalopram) and 1 anticonvulsant (gabapentin) in patients with painful diabetic neuropathy.Methods
This was a 6 months prospective trial in 101 patients with painful diabetic neuropathy and minimum score of 2 on a pain intensity scale ranging of 0 to 4. Compliance was assessed with patient interviews and pill counts. Adverse events, early discontinuation or satisfaction with treatment were also evaluated.Results
Patients receiving SSRIs reported greater satisfaction and fewer concerns of the side-effects with their treatment (P<0.05) compared with the patients taking gabapentin. There was statistically significant better mood in the SSRI group (P<0.05). Overall, 43.5% of those taking SSRIs noticed no effect on the pain control, 50% felt better, and 6.5% felt worse. Among the patients taking gabapentin, 51% felt better, 40.5% noticed no effect, and 8.5% felt worse. Finally, on the pill count, more patients on SSRIs (93.5%) than on gabapentin (82.9%) were taking over the 75% of their medication (P<0.05).Conclusions
The lack of negative effects on quality of life, the better compliance, and the comparable efficiency of SSRIs suggest that these drugs may be considered as alternative to gabapentin in painful diabetic neuropathy.