The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor paroxetine is effective in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy symptoms

Pain. 1990 Aug;42(2):135-144. doi: 10.1016/0304-3959(90)91157-E.


The effect of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor paroxetine on diabetic neuropathy symptoms was examined in comparison to imipramine and placebo in a randomised, double-blind, cross-over study. Paroxetine was given as a fixed dose of 40 mg/day, while the dose of imipramine was adjusted to yield optimal plasma levels of imipramine plus desipramine of 400-600 nM. Paroxetine significantly reduced the symptoms of neuropathy as measured by both observer- and self-rating, but was somewhat less effective than imipramine. However, patients showing a weaker response to paroxetine than to imipramine had lower plasma concentrations of paroxetine than patients with similar response to the 2 drugs. On imipramine 5 patients dropped out because of intolerable side effects and 4 of 19 patients completing the study reported withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing imipramine. On paroxetine no patients dropped out due to side effects and no withdrawal symptoms were reported. Self-rating showed no depressive symptoms at baseline, and no changes during the study. Neither paroxetine nor imipramine caused changes in objective measures of peripheral nerve function. In conclusion, 40 mg paroxetine/day significantly reduced the symptoms in peripheral diabetic neuropathy, and it was suggested that by dose adjustment on the basis of drug level monitoring, paroxetine may become as effective as imipramine. Paroxetine was devoid of the often disturbing autonomic side effects limiting the use of imipramine in several patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Depression / psychology
  • Desipramine / blood
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / drug therapy*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / psychology
  • Humans
  • Imipramine / adverse effects
  • Imipramine / blood
  • Imipramine / therapeutic use
  • Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Paroxetine
  • Piperidines / therapeutic use*
  • Serotonin Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Time Factors


  • Piperidines
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Paroxetine
  • Imipramine
  • Desipramine