Amitriptyline Patient Tips
How it works
- Amitriptyline is used to treat depression and is thought to work by increasing levels of serotonin and/or norepinephrine in the brain.
- Amitriptyline belongs to a group of medicines known as tricyclic antidepressants.
- Effective for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD).
- May be used off-label for the treatment of other conditions in addition to other treatments or where alternative treatments have not worked (for example chronic pain, fibromyalgia, insomnia).
- Recommended on the WHO pain ladder for nerve-related pain unresponsive to opioid-like drugs (such as morphine).
If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:
- Dry mouth, headache, constipation, diarrhea, and sexual dysfunction.
- May increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in young adults (similar to other antidepressants).
- May cause drowsiness and affect a person's ability to drive or operate machinery; some people may develop tolerance to this effect.
- Risk of heart-related effects, muscle rigidity, tremor, seizures, increased sensitivity to light, weight gain or loss, hair loss, skin rash, and edema.
- Interaction or overdosage may cause serotonin syndrome (symptoms include agitation, hallucinations, fast heart rate, dizziness, muscle tremor, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea).
- May cause withdrawal symptoms with abrupt discontinuation (symptoms include nausea, headache, sleep disturbance, and generalized tiredness).These are not indicative of addiction. Taper dosage off slowly under medical supervision.
Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.
- Take higher dosages late afternoon or in the evening to minimize daytime sedation.
- Do not stop suddenly as withdrawal symptoms may occur. Slow dosage reduction over weeks to months is recommended.
- Monitor patients for worsening of depression or suicidal thoughts particularly during the first few months of therapy. Also monitor for serotonin syndrome.
- Report any unusual side effects to a doctor.
- May increase the risk of sunburn; protect yourself from the sun when outdoors.
Response and Effectiveness
- Peak concentrations reached in 4 to 8 hours. Metabolized to an active metabolite (nortriptyline) so effects are long-lasting. Antidepressant effect may take several weeks to develop.
Amitriptyline [package insert] Revised 11/2015. Accord Healthcare Inc. https://www.drugs.com/pro/amitriptyline.html Accessed 02/2016. Gupta SK, Shah JC, and Hwang SS. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic characterization of OROS® and immediate-release amitriptyline. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1999 Jul; 48(1): 71–8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2014871/
More about amitriptyline
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Images
- Drug Interactions
- Support Group
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
- 912 Reviews – Add your own review/rating
- Drug class: tricyclic antidepressants
Related treatment guides
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use amitriptyline only for the indication prescribed.
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