Amitriptyline Tablets

Amitriptyline is a medication that treats depression. It works by increasing the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain. These hormones help regulate your mood. Brand names for this medication include Elavil® and Vanatrip®.

What is this medication?

AMITRIPTYLINE (a mee TRIP ti leen) treats depression. It increases the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, hormones that help regulate mood. It belongs to a group of medications called tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).

This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.

COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Elavil, Vanatrip

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What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • An alcohol problem
  • Asthma, trouble breathing
  • Bipolar disorder or schizophrenia
  • Difficulty passing urine, prostate trouble
  • Glaucoma
  • Heart disease or previous heart attack
  • Liver disease
  • Over active thyroid
  • Seizures
  • Thoughts or plans of suicide, a previous suicide attempt, or family history of suicide attempt
  • An unusual or allergic reaction to amitriptyline, other medications, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • Pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • Breast-feeding

How should I use this medication?

Take this medication by mouth with a drink of water. Follow the directions on the prescription label. You can take the tablets with or without food. Take your medication at regular intervals. Do not take it more often than directed. Do not stop taking this medication suddenly except upon the advice of your care team. Stopping this medication too quickly may cause serious side effects or your condition may worsen.

A special MedGuide will be given to you by the pharmacist with each prescription and refill. Be sure to read this information carefully each time.

Talk to your care team regarding the use of this medication in children. Special care may be needed.

Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.

NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.

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What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medication?

Do not take this medication with any of the following:

  • Arsenic trioxide
  • Certain medications used to regulate abnormal heartbeat or to treat other heart conditions
  • Cisapride
  • Droperidol
  • Halofantrine
  • Linezolid
  • MAOIs like Carbex, Eldepryl, Marplan, Nardil, and Parnate
  • Methylene blue
  • Other medications for mental depression
  • Phenothiazines like perphenazine, thioridazine and chlorpromazine
  • Pimozide
  • Probucol
  • Procarbazine
  • Sparfloxacin
  • St. John's Wort

This medication may also interact with the following:

  • Atropine and related medications like hyoscyamine, scopolamine, tolterodine and others
  • Barbiturate medications for inducing sleep or treating seizures, like phenobarbital
  • Cimetidine
  • Disulfiram
  • Ethchlorvynol
  • Thyroid hormones such as levothyroxine
  • Ziprasidone

This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.

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What should I watch for while using this medication?

Tell your care team if your symptoms do not get better or if they get worse. Visit your care team for regular checks on your progress. Because it may take several weeks to see the full effects of this medication, it is important to continue your treatment as prescribed by your care team.

Patients and their families should watch out for new or worsening thoughts of suicide or depression. Also watch out for sudden changes in feelings such as feeling anxious, agitated, panicky, irritable, hostile, aggressive, impulsive, severely restless, overly excited and hyperactive, or not being able to sleep. If this happens, especially at the beginning of treatment or after a change in dose, call your care team.

You may get drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs mental alertness until you know how this medication affects you. Do not stand or sit up quickly, especially if you are an older patient. This reduces the risk of dizzy or fainting spells. Alcohol may interfere with the effect of this medication. Avoid alcoholic drinks.

Do not treat yourself for coughs, colds, or allergies without asking your care team for advice. Some ingredients can increase possible side effects.

Your mouth may get dry. Chewing sugarless gum or sucking hard candy, and drinking plenty of water will help. Contact your care team if the problem does not go away or is severe.

This medication may cause dry eyes and blurred vision. If you wear contact lenses you may feel some discomfort. Lubricating drops may help. See your eye doctor if the problem does not go away or is severe.

This medication can cause constipation. Try to have a bowel movement at least every 2 to 3 days. If you do not have a bowel movement for 3 days, call your care team.

This medication can make you more sensitive to the sun. Keep out of the sun. If you cannot avoid being in the sun, wear protective clothing and use sunscreen. Do not use sun lamps or tanning beds/booths.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?

Side effects that you should report to your care team as soon as possible:

  • Allergic reactions—skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Heart rhythm changes— fast or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, feeling faint or lightheaded, chest pain, trouble breathing
  • Serotonin syndrome—irritability, confusion, fast or irregular heartbeat, muscle stiffness, twitching muscles, sweating, high fever, seizure, chills, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Sudden eye pain or change in vision such as blurry vision, seeing halos around lights, vision loss
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm, worsening mood, feelings of depression

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your care team if they continue or are bothersome):

  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Change in sex drive or performance
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremors

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where should I keep my medication?

Keep out of the reach of children and pets.

Store at room temperature between 20 and 25 degrees C (68 and 77 degrees F). Throw away any unused medication after the expiration date.

NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.

Copyright ©2024 Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Note: Introduction and Additional Common Questions written and medically approved by Cleveland Clinic professionals.

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