Brand names of amitriptyline

  • Amitid
  • Amitril
  • Apo-Amitriptyline
  • Elatrol
  • Elavil
  • Elavil Plus [CD]
  • Emitrip
  • Endep
  • Enovil
  • Etrafon [CD]
  • Etrafon-A [CD]
  • Etrafon-D [CD]
  • Etrafon-Forte [CD]
  • Levate
  • Novo-Triptyn
  • PMS-Amitriptyline
  • PMS-Levazine [CD]
  • SK-Amitriptyline
  • Triavil [CD]

Amitriptyline is basically an antidepressant medication that is prescribed to treat symptoms related to depression. This medication works to enliven the mood by means of increasing the concentration of neurotransmitters (chemical substances that work as messengers for the nerves within the brain), as it is considered that some patients suffering from depression have anomalous neurotransmitter levels. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale as well as use of amitriptyline in the United States in May 1983.

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Things you need to tell your physician before taking amitriptyline

Before you use amitriptyline for the first time, inform your physician as well as pharmacist whether you have allergies to this medication or any other drug. In addition, tell your physician provided you are taking any monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors like phenelzine (Nardil), isocarboxazid (Marplan), tranylcypromine (Parnate) or selegiline (Emsam, Elderpryl, Zelapar); or if you have used any MAO inhibitor in the past fortnight; or cisapride (Propulsid), not sold in the United States. If you have taken or are taking any of the above mentioned medicaments, it is most likely that your physician will advise you against taking amitriptyline.

In addition, let your physician and pharmacist know about all the prescription and non-prescription medicaments, dietary supplements, herbal products and vitamins you are using. Especially notify your physician if you have discontinued taking fluoxetine (Sarafem, Prozac) during the last five months. In this case, your physician may possibly alter your amitriptyline dosage or keep a close eye on you to find if you develop any side effects from using this medication.

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Let your physician know if you suffered a heart attack recently, as this will make your physician ask you not to use amitriptyline. Also inform your physician if you consume alcohol in large amounts. Before you take amitriptyline, you should know that using alcohol in combination with this drug may increase the stupor caused by this medication.

Provided you are already 65 years old or even older, it is important that you talk over with your physician regarding the benefits and risks of taking amitriptyline, before you actually start using this medication. In fact, generally, elderly people should not take this antidepressant medication, as it is neither safe nor effective for them compared to other medications that cure the same medical condition.

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Before starting treatment with amitriptyline, it is essential to let your physician know about your entire medical history. Especially notify your physician if you are suffering from or have ever suffered from seizures; diabetes; glaucoma (a disorder related to the eyes); schizophrenia (a mental ailment that results in troubled or abnormal thoughts, lack of interest in life, and very powerful and improper emotions); an enlarged prostate (a condition related to a reproductive organ in males); problems in urinating; hyperthyroidism (a hyperactive thyroid gland); and/ or ailments related to the heart, kidneys and/ or the liver.

Women planning to take amitriptyline should let their physician know if they are pregnant or planning pregnancy. In case any woman becomes pregnant while taking this medication she should immediately contact her physician for help and guidance. New mothers taking amitriptyline should not breast feed, as this medication may pass onto the breast milk and harm the baby.

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People taking amitriptyline and require undergoing an operation, counting any dental process, should tell their physician or dentist in advance that they are using this medication. In addition, you should be aware of the fact that taking amitriptyline may cause drowsiness and, therefore, it is not advisable that you drive a vehicle or use a machine while undergoing treatment with this drug till you are certain about the actions of the medication on your body and till such time when you can execute these tasks safely.


Amitriptyline is prescribed for people suffering from symptoms of major depression, and is helpful in alleviating them.

How to use amitriptyline

Amitriptyline is available in tablet form and is taken orally, generally one to four times every day. Amitriptyline should be taken around the same time(s) daily, as it will not only help in maintaining the level of the medication in the bloodstream, but also help you to remember that you need to take the drug. Amitriptyline should be strictly used as instructed. It is also vital to abide by the instructions on the prescription label and in case you do not comprehend any instruction or have a query seek the help of your physician or pharmacist. Do not take this medication in excessive or low doses than what your physician has prescribed. Also don't take it for a longer period or more frequently than what has been instructed.

As in the case of several medications, it is likely that your physician will ask you to begin taking amitriptyline at a low dose and increase the dosage slowly. The benefits of amitriptyline are not evident immediately, but it may take about some weeks' time or may be even more for you to experience the advantages of using this medication. Never discontinue amitriptyline without prior consultation with your physician. In case you stop using this medication abruptly you are likely to have a number of withdrawal symptoms, which may include headache, nausea and loss of vitality.

How amitriptyline works

The antidepressant drug amitriptyline works by influencing the concentration of neurotransmitters (especially norepinephrine, serotonin and acetylcholine) in the brain, which are considered to be associated with our mental condition, emotions and mood.

Side effects

  • blurred or altered vision
  • breathing difficulty
  • confusion
  • constipation
  • difficult urination
  • difficulty speaking or swallowing
  • dilated pupils
  • drowsiness or fatigue
  • extreme restlessness
  • eye pain
  • fainting
  • fever
  • heartbeat irregularities
  • hallucinations
  • impaired concentration
  • loss of balance and coordination
  • seizures
  • shaking, trembling, stiffness and weakness in the extremities
  • shuffling gait
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth or unpleasant taste
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • heightened sensitivity to light
  • increased appetite
  • nausea
  • unusual weight gain
Less common:

Possible interactions

Herbal medicines or minerals:
Amitriptyline should not be taken in conjunction with specific herbal products and minerals, as they are likely to interact. Both amitriptyline and the herb St. John's wort both work to enhance the serotonin levels and, hence, using this combination is not advisable. In addition, St. John's wort makes sensitivity to the sun worse. As ginseng may work in the same way as a MAO inhibitor (monoamine oxidase inhibitor), never use this herb in conjunction with amitriptyline. People taking this medication would also do better by staying away from some other herbs like kava kava, Indian snakeroot and yohimbe.
If you are taking amitriptyline you should be aware of the fact that too much intake of vitamin C has the potential to put a damper on the remedial benefits of this drug. In addition, excessive vitamin C may also result in an increased appetite and too much weight gain.
You should make sure that you do not take alcoholic beverages or any other form of alcohol while undergoing treatment with amitriptyline. This medication has the aptitude to cause significant enhancement in the inebriating actions of alcohol and it may also slow down the functioning of the brain.
Tobacco smoking:
You should avoid smoking while taking amitriptyline, because nicotine has the aptitude to speed up the process of getting your body rid of this medication.
Exposure to heat:
When people taking amitriptyline are exposed to hot environments, it may restrain sweating and, at the same time, damage the body's ability to adapt itself to hot surroundings, thereby, augmenting the chances of having a heatstroke.
Exposure to cold:
Elderly people using amitriptyline should be careful not to expose them to cold environments for a prolonged period of time.
Exposure to sun:
The use of the antidepressant drug amitriptyline may possibly make you very sensitive to sunlight; therefore, try not to expose yourself to the sun for long periods while taking this medication.


It is advisable that you do not stop taking amitriptyline all of a sudden, but decrease the dosage of the medication gradually before discontinuing it. Discontinuing this medication suddenly following a prolonged used may possibly result in headache, nausea and malaise.

Storage instructions

It is important to store amitriptyline in the container in which it came. Seal the container tightly and keep it in a place inaccessible to children. Always keep this medication at room temperature and in a place that is free from extreme heat and humidity. Never store amitriptyline in your bathroom. When the expiry date of any medication lapses or it is not required any more discard it in a safe and appropriate manner. If required, consult your pharmacist regarding the safe and apposite disposal of such drugs.


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