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    Information about Amitriptyline

    Amitriptyline uses

    Amitriptyline is used in the treatment of depression and neuropathic pain.

    How amitriptyline works

    Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant. It works by increasing the levels of chemical messengers in the brain that help in regulating mood and treat depression. It also stops the movement of pain signals from nerves to the brain thereby relieving neuropathic pain (pain from damaged nerves).

    Common side effects of amitriptyline

    Increased heart rate, Dryness in mouth, Constipation, Weight gain, Difficulty in urination, Orthostatic hypotension (sudden lowering of blood pressure on standing)
    Content Details
    Written By
    Dr. Swati Mishra
    Reviewed By
    Dr. Lalit Kanodia
    MD (Pharmacology), MBBS
    Last updated on:
    21 Feb 2020 | 11:10 AM (IST)
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    Read Our Editorial Policy

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    Expert advice for Amitriptyline

    • It may take 4 to 6 weeks for Amitriptyline to start working. Keep taking it as prescribed.
    • It may cause sleepiness. Take it at bedtime and do not drive or do anything requiring concentration until you know how it affects you.
    • Avoid consuming alcohol when taking Amitriptyline as it may cause excessive sleepiness.
    • Monitor your weight during the treatment as this medicine can cause weight gain and increased appetite.
    • It may cause sudden drop in your blood pressure. Rise slowly if you have been sitting or lying down.
    • Talk to your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or develop suicidal thoughts.

    Frequently asked questions for Amitriptyline


    Q. I have been prescribed Amitriptyline for pain. When will I start feeling better?

    You may start feeling better after 2 weeks of starting Amitriptyline. However, it may take 4-6 weeks to see the full benefits of the medicine.

    Q. Can I stop taking Amitriptyline when my pain is relieved?

    No, do not stop taking Amitriptyline even if the pain is relieved. You should use Amitriptyline as advised by the doctor. Stopping the medicine suddenly may cause unpleasant symptoms like headache, feeling unwell, sleeplessness and irritability. Consult your doctor for the duration of the treatment since the dose of Amitriptyline needs to be reduced gradually.

    Q. Is there anything I need to be careful about while on therapy with Amitriptyline?

    Amitriptyline may cause drowsiness and dizziness, especially in the beginning of the treatment. So, avoid driving or using machinery until you know how the medicine affects you. Also, it is not advisable to drink alcohol during treatment with this medicine as it might increase sleepiness.

    Q. Can the use of Amitriptyline affect my sex life?

    Yes, Amitriptyline can affect sex life in both men and women. It may cause decreased sexual desire or you may experience discomfort during intercourse. Men may experience inability to develop or maintain an erection during sexual activity and may be unable to have an orgasm. If you notice these symptoms, do not stop taking the medicine but consult your doctor.

    Q. I have been taking Amitriptyline for depression since a week and recently I have been wanting to harm myself. What should I do? Is it because of the medicine?

    You should immediately consult your doctor or go to the hospital. Your suicidal tendencies may have increased because of your disease or the medicine. Generally, Amitriptyline takes about 2 weeks to show its effect but may take longer. Therefore, when you start taking Amitriptyline, you may have thoughts about killing or harming yourself. This is more common in people who previously had suicidal tendencies or are young adults (less than 25 years old). However, the effect of medicine is different for every individual.

    Q. Can Amitriptyline cause urinary problems?

    Yes, Amitriptyline can cause urinary problems. It is more commonly seen in elderly patients who are more than 65 years old. The patient may face difficulty in passing urine which can further lead to a urinary tract infection. Consult your doctor immediately if you develop these symptoms.

    Q. If my pain is not relieved, can I take more than the recommended dose?

    No, you should use Amitriptyline strictly as prescribed by the doctor. If the dose exceeds, you may develop drowsiness, confusion, difficulty in speech, dry mouth, tiredness, difficulty in walking, fever, difficulty in breathing, blue discoloration of the skin and decreased heartbeat. Your pain may not be relieved because Amitriptyline takes about 2 weeks to show its effect, but it may take longer in some cases. The duration of treatment can differ from individual to individual. Consult your doctor if your symptoms are not relieved.

    Q. Does Amitriptyline cause any effect on pregnancy or the newborn?

    Do not take Amitriptyline during pregnancy unless recommended by the doctor. If you take this medicine during the last trimester of the pregnancy, the newborn may develop symptoms such as irritability, rigidity, irregular body movements, irregular breathing, poor drinking, loud crying, difficulty in urinating and constipation.

    Q. How long does Amitriptyline take to work?

    You may see an improvement in your symptoms after a couple of weeks, although it usually takes between 4 and 6 weeks before you feel the benefits. Do not stop taking Amitriptyline after 1 or 2 weeks just because you feel it is not helping your symptoms. Give the medicine at least 6 weeks to work.

    Q. How will Amitriptyline make me feel?

    Antidepressants like Amitriptyline help to gradually lift your mood. You may notice that you sleep better and are less anxious. You may worry less about little things that used to bother you. Amitriptyline will not make you feel excessively or unusually happy. It will help you feel like yourself again.

    Q. What other lifestyle changes should I make to get maximum benefit of Amitriptyline?

    Antidepressants, including Amitriptyline, are just one of several approaches to treat depression. Certain lifestyle changes can help you get maximum benefit of Amitriptyline and help you recover fast. Keeping active and eating a healthy diet can make a significant difference to how quickly you recover from depression. Think positively and try to discuss your thoughts with others to reduce stress. Practice yoga or take up a hobby. Ensure that you have a sound sleep to calm your mind. Stay away from smoking or alcohol consumption as these will only worsen your depression. Take your medicines as prescribed even if you start feeling better.

    Content on this page was last updated on 21 February, 2020, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)