Is it safe to take glucosamine and chondroitin with antidepressants?

Are you taking an antidepressant and would like to also take chondroitin or glucosamine?

There are certain compounds that should not be taken with antidepressants  — for instance, narcotic painkillers, which can suppress the therapeutic effects of an antidepressant.

But what about chondroitin and glucosamine with antidepressants? Can taking chondroitin or glucosamine with an antidepressant create problems?

I wondered about this, and asked Joe Wegmann, psychopharmacologist and licensed clinical social worker, author of Psychopharmacology: Straight Talk on Mental Health Medications.      

Wegmann explains: “Chondroitin occurs naturally in the body and is a major component of cartilage  —  connective tissue that cushions the joints.

“Some scientific studies suggest chondroitin may be effective for osteoarthritis, but others have not shown any positive effects associated with its use.

“I cannot find any contraindications associated with taking chondroitin in conjunction with antidepressants, so I would say the combination is fine.”

What about glucosamine with antidepressants? Wegmann says: “Same as for chondroitin; taking antidepressants in combination with glucosamine is fine, no reported contraindications.”

So if you’re on a medication such as Cymbalta, Effexor, Lexapro, Zoloft, Pristiq, Paxil or Prozac, it’s perfectly okay to take chondroitin or glucosamine; neither will suppress the actions of selective serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SS/NRI) drugs.

In fact, if you’re thinking of taking narcotic painkillers while on an SS/NRI, beware:

Narcotics suppress, or depress, the central nervous system; that’s how they numb pain.

Examples of narcotics are Vicodin, Norco, Darvocet, Percocet and codeine.

Since narcotics depress the central nervous system, they will “fight” against your antidepressant.

It’s quite possible that a narcotic painkiller can pretty much cancel out the effect of an SS/NRI, and/or the SS/NRI can cancel out the pain-numbing effect of a narcotic.

Another point to consider:

A possible side effect to narcotics is depression and anxiety. Of course, read the insert to your SS/NRI medication, because depression and anxiety can also be side effects of antidepressants.

However, it’s very possible to experience no side effects from a drug like Cymbalta, Effexor and Pristiq, and yet suffer miserable side effects from the use of a prescription narcotic, which can include depression and even mental confusion.

If you are having joint pain while being treated for depression, consider first taking chondroitin, glucosamine or aspirin/ibuprofen, since these will not interact with antidepressants.

Sometimes these work for pain, and sometimes they don’t, but there’s only one way to find out. Another effective treatment for joint pain is structured exercise.

Joseph Wegmann is a licensed clinical pharmacist and clinical social worker with more than 30 years of experience in the field of psychopharmacology.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.