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The physician’s psychoactive medication resource guide
25% of your patients taking an antidepressant will have
weight gain and the weight gain is directly caused by the antidepressant.
Brand name (Elavil and Endep)
Amitriptyline. Find out the true Amitriptyline side effects. Amitriptyline side effects, warnings,
Amitriptyline precautions, Amitriptyline adverse effects, Amitriptyline overdose, Amitriptyline
withdrawal symptoms and Amitriptyline natural alternatives. Before you begin the spiral
down with Amitriptyline, try giving your body what it really wants.
In the drug management of depressive illness.
Amitriptyline may be used in depressive illness of psychotic or endogenous nature and in
selected patients with neurotic depression. Endogenous depression is more likely to be alleviated
than are other depressive states. Amitriptyline, because of its sedative action, is also of value in
alleviating the anxiety component of depression.
As with other tricyclic antidepressants, amitriptyline may precipitate hypomanic episodes in
patients with bipolar depression. These drugs are not indicated in mild depressive states and
In patients who have shown prior hypersensitivity to it. It should not be given concomitantly with a
MAO inhibiting compound. Hyperpyretic crises, severe convulsions, and deaths have occurred in
patients receiving tricyclic antidepressant and MAO inhibiting drugs simultaneously. When it is
desired to substitute amitriptyline for a MAO inhibitor, a minimum of 14 days should be allowed to
elapse after the latter is discontinued. Amitriptyline should then be initiated cautiously with
gradual increase in dosage until optimum response is achieved.
This drug is not recommended for use during the acute recovery phase following myocardial
infarction and in the presence of acute congestive heart failure.
See Pregnancy under Warnings.
Amitriptyline should be used with caution in patients with a history of seizures, impaired liver
function, a history of hepatic damage or blood dyscrasias and, because of its atropine-like action,
in patients with a history of urinary retention, or with narrow-angle glaucoma or increased
intraocular pressure. In patients with narrow-angle glaucoma, even average doses may
precipitate an attack.
There has been a report of fatal dysrhythmia occurring as late as 56 hours after amitriptyline
Patients with cardiovascular disorders should be watched closely. Tricyclic antidepressant drugs,
including amitriptyline, particularly when given in high doses, have been reported to produce
arrhythmias, sinus tachycardia, and prolongation of the conduction time.
A few instances of unexpected deaths have been reported in patients with cardiovascular
disorders. Myocardial infarction and stroke have also been reported with drugs of this class.
Therefore, these drugs should be used with caution in patients with a history of cardiovascular
disease, such as myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure.
Concurrent administration of amitriptyline and electroshock therapy may increase the hazards of
therapy. Such treatment should be limited to patients for whom it is essential.
Close supervision is required when amitriptyline is given to hyperthyroid patients or those
receiving thyroid medication.
May impair mental and/or physical abilities required for performance of hazardous tasks, such as
operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle.
There are no well-controlled studies in pregnant women; therefore, in administering the drug to pregnant patients or women who may
become pregnant, the potential benefits must be weighed against the possible hazards to mother and child.
Amitriptyline is detectable in breast milk. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in infants from amitriptyline, a decision
should be made whether to discontinue nursing or discontinue the drug.
In view of the lack of experience with the use of this drug in the treatment of depression in children, amitriptyline is not recommended for
depressed patients under 12 years of age.
The potency of amitriptyline is such that addition of other antidepressant drugs generally does not result in any additional therapeutic
benefit. Untoward reactions have been reported after the combined use of antidepressant agents having varying modes of activity.
Accordingly, combined use of amitriptyline and other antidepressant drugs should be undertaken only with due recognition of the
possibility of potentiation and with a thorough knowledge of the pharmacology of both drugs. There has been no reports of untoward
events when patients receiving amitriptyline were changed immediately to protriptyline or vice versa.
When amitriptyline is used to treat the depressive component of schizophrenia, activation or aggravation of existing psychotic
manifestation may occur. Likewise, manic depressive patients may experience hypomanic or manic episodes and hyperactive or agitated
patients may become overstimulated. Paranoid delusions, with or without associated hostility, may be exaggerated. A reduction in dose or
discontinuation of amitriptyline may be indicated and administration of a neuroleptic such as a phenothiazine, be considered under these
Seriously depressed patients should be carefully supervised. The possibility of suicide in depressed patients remains during treatment.
Patients should not have access to large quantities of this drug during treatment.
Discontinue the drug several days before elective surgery if possible.
Amitriptyline may block the antihypertensive action of guanethidine or similarly acting compounds.
When amitriptyline is given with anticholinergic agents or sympathomimetic drugs, including epinephrine combined with local anesthetics,
close supervision and careful adjustment of dosage are required. Paralytic ileus may occur in patients taking tricyclic antidepressants in
combination with anticholinergic-type drugs.
Since amitriptyline, in combination with anticholinergic type drugs, may give rise to paralytic ileus, particularly in elderly or hospitalized
patients, appropriate measures should be taken if constipation occurs in these patients.
Cimetidine is reported to reduce hepatic metabolism of certain tricyclic antidepressants.
Caution is advised if patients receive large doses of ethchlorvynol concurrently. Transient delirium has been reported in patients who were
treated with 1 g of ethchlorvynol and 75 to 150 mg of amitriptyline.
Amitriptyline may enhance the response to alcohol and the effects of barbiturates and other CNS depressants. Delirium has been
reported with concurrent administration of amitriptyline and disulfiram.
Included in this listing which follows are a few adverse reactions which have not been reported with this specific drug. However,
pharmacological similarities among the tricyclic antidepressant drugs require that each of the reactions be considered when amitriptyline
Drowsiness, fatigue, activation of latent schizophrenia, disorientation, confusional states, hallucinations, delusions, hypomanic reactions,
disturbed concentration, nightmares, insomnia, restlessness, agitation, excitement, jitteriness, anxiety, giddiness.
Epileptiform seizures, coma, dizziness, tremors, numbness, tingling, paresthesias of the extremities, peripheral neuropathy, headache,
ataxia, alteration in EEG patterns, extrapyramidal symptoms including abnormal involuntary movements and tardive dyskinesia,
dysarthria, tinnitus, incoordination, and slurred speech.
Urinary retention, dilatation of the urinary tract, constipation, paralytic ileus, especially in the elderly, hyperpyrexia, dry mouth, blurred
vision, disturbance of accommodation, increased intraocular pressure, precipitation of latent glaucoma, aggravation of existing glaucoma,
Quinidine-like effect and other non-specific ECG changes and changes in AV conduction, prolonged conduction time, asystole,
hypotension, syncope, hypertension, palpitation, arrhythmias, heart block, ventricular tachycardia, fibrillation, myocardial infarction,
stroke, unexpected death in patients with cardiovascular disorders.
Bone marrow depression, including agranulocytosis, leukopenia, eosinophilia, purpura, thrombocytopenia.
Skin rash, urticaria, photosensitization, edema of the face and tongue, itching.
Nausea, epigastric distress, heartburn, vomiting, hepatitis (including altered liver function and jaundice), anorexia, stomatitis, peculiar
taste, diarrhea, parotid swelling, black tongue may occur.
Testicular swelling, gynecomastia and impotence in the male, breast enlargement and galactorrhea in the female, increased or decreased
libido, elevation and lowering of blood sugar levels, syndrome of inappropriate ADH (antidiuretic hormone) secretion.
Weakness, increased perspiration, edema, urinary frequency, alopecia, increased appetite, weight gain, weight loss.
Abrupt cessation of treatment after prolonged administration may produce nausea, headache, and malaise. Gradual dosage reduction
has been reported to produce, within 2 weeks, transient symptoms including irritability, restlessness, and dream and sleep disturbance.
These symptoms are not indicative of addiction. Rare instances have been reported of mania or hypomania occurring within 2 to 7 days
following cessation of chronic therapy with tricyclic antidepressants.
High doses may cause temporary confusion, disturbed concentration, or transient visual hallucinations. Overdosage may cause
drowsiness, hypothermia, tachycardia and other arrhythmic abnormalities, such as bundle branch block, ECG evidence of impaired
conduction, congestive heart failure, disorders of ocular motility, convulsions, severe hypotension, stupor, coma, polyradiculoneuropathy
and constipation. Other symptoms may be agitation, hyperactive reflexes, muscle rigidity, vomiting, hyperpyrexia, or any of those listed
under Adverse Effects.
In patients with glaucoma, even average doses may precipitate an attack.
Treatment is symptomatic and supportive. Cardiac arrhythmias and CNS involvement pose the greatest threat and may occur suddenly
even when initial symptoms appear to be mild. Therefore, patients who may have ingested an overdosage of amitriptyline, particularly
children, should be hospitalized and kept under close surveillance. Induced emesis and gastric lavage are recommended in the alert and
conscious patient. Following gastric lavage, activated charcoal may be administered. Twenty to 30 g of activated charcoal may be given
every 4 to 6 hours during the first 24 to 48 hours after ingestion. It may be helpful to leave the tube in the stomach, with irrigation (with an
electrolyte balanced fluid) and continual aspiration of stomach contents possibly promoting more rapid elimination of the drug from the
body. If the patient is not alert, a cuffed endotracheal tube should be inserted before lavage is performed, and emesis should not be
induced. An open airway should be maintained. Standard measures (oxygen, i.v. fluids, corticosteroids) may be used to manage
circulatory shock and metabolic acidosis. Norepinephrine or other pressor agents (but no epinephrine) by i.v. drop infusion under
continuous monitoring may be used if necessary. Failing respiration must be maintained by artificial means, but respiratory stimulants
should not be used. Regulate body temperature. Hyperpyrexia should be controlled by external measures, such as ice packs and cooling
sponge baths. Catheterization should be performed in the unconscious patient. Continuous cardiac monitoring should be instituted in all
patients, particularly in the presence of ECG abnormalities and should be maintained for several days after the cardiac rhythm has
returned to normal. Because of its effects on cardiac conduction, digitalis should be used only with caution. If rapid digitalization is
required for the treatment of congestive heart failure, special care should be exercised in using the drug.
It has been reported that i.v. administration of physostigmine salicylate may reverse some of the CNS and cardiovascular effects of
tricyclic antidepressants. The dosage that has been recommended for adults is 1 to 2 mg in very slow i.v. injection. In children, the initial
dosage should not exceed 0.5 mg and should be adjusted to age and response. Since physostigmine has a short duration of action,
administration may have to be repeated at 30 to 60 minute intervals particularly in life-threatening signs such as arrhythmias, convulsions,
and deep coma recur or persist after the initial dose of physostigmine. Because physostigmine itself may be toxic, it is not recommended
for routine use.
The room should be darkened, with a minimal amount of external stimulation, to reduce the tendency to convulsions. If convulsions occur,
they should preferably be controlled by non-barbiturate sedatives, such as chlordiazepoxide or diazepam, or by an inhalation anesthetic
(amitriptyline increases the CNS depressant but not the anticonvulsant action of barbiturates). Deaths by deliberate or accidental
overdosage have occurred with this class of drugs. Since the propensity for suicide is high in depressed patients, a suicide attempt by
other means may occur during the recovery phase. The possibility of simultaneous ingestion of other drugs should also be considered.
Dialysis has not been found to be of value for intoxication by amitriptyline alone due to low plasma concentrations of the drug.