Tramadol is an analgesic that antagonizes opiate receptors, though it isn't an opiate. It is primarily used to treat severe pain.
However, like the opiates, it has anti anxiety properties perhaps via its modulation of noradrenergic and serotonergic systems, and so is sometimes used off-label for anxiety, particularly OCD, often when there is no response to other anti anxiety drugs.
There seems to be evidence that some doctors are prescribing it rather than benzodiazepines because of increased regulation of these drugs, or simply the bad publicity they have received due to withdrawal effects. Given that Tramadol also have a distinct withdrawal syndrome, this seems strange.
CAUTION: There is a risk of
serotonin syndrome if taken with antidepressants, especially the SSRIs.
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