What is Elavil?

Elavil (amitriptyline) is a tricyclic antidepressant. It affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with depression.

Health Benefits

Elavil is used to treat symptoms of depression. It can also be used “off-label” for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), migraines, and other conditions.

Side Effects and Risks

Elavil may cause side effects. Common side effects include drowsiness, constipation, dry mouth, and weight gain. More serious side effects may include seizures, fast or irregular heartbeat, blurred vision, and urinary retention. Elavil may also interact with other medications. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you take, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

If you have any questions about Elavil (amitriptyline), please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Dosage

Elavil is available in tablet form. The usual starting dose ranges from 10 mg to 75 mg taken orally once a day at bedtime. The dose may be increased by 50 mg per week as necessary.

Pregnancy and Elavil

Elavil should not be used during pregnancy unless the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. If you become pregnant while taking Elavil, call your doctor immediately.

Pharmacokinetics

Elavil is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and is widely distributed in the body. It is metabolized in the liver and excreted in the urine. The half-life is from 24 to 48 hours.

Mechanism of Action

The exact mechanism of action of Elavil is unknown, but it is thought to work by inhibiting the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain, which helps to elevate mood.

Alternatives

There are many other medications that can be used to treat depression. Some common alternatives include Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), and Paxil (paroxetine). If you have any questions about Elavil or other antidepressants, please talk with your doctor.

Is Prozac more effective than Elavil?

There is no definitive answer to this question as each person responds to medications differently. Some people may find that Prozac is more effective for them, while others may find that Elavil works better for them. It is important to work with your doctor to find the medication that is best for you.

Overdosage

Symptoms of overdose may include seizures, fast or irregular heartbeat, confusion, drowsiness, and blurred vision.

Warnings

Elavil should not be used in children under the age of 12.

If you have a history of glaucoma, talk to your doctor before taking Elavil as it may make your condition worse.

Elavil may cause drowsiness or impair your thinking or reactions. You should not drive or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.

Do not drink alcohol while taking Elavil as it can increase the risk of side effects.

Do not suddenly stop taking Elavil as this can cause withdrawal symptoms. If you need to stop taking the medication, your doctor will gradually decrease your dosage over time.

Interactions

Elavil may interact with other medications. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you take, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Amitriptyline may increase the effects of other medications that can cause drowsiness, including antidepressants, antihistamines, sedatives, pain relievers, anxiety medications, and muscle relaxants.

Elavil may also interfere with the effectiveness of birth control pills. If you are taking birth control pills, you should use a second form of birth control such as a condom to prevent pregnancy.

Tell your doctor if you are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) as taking them together with Elavil can cause a dangerous reaction.

Elavil may also interact with blood thinners, heart rhythm medications, lithium, diabetes medications, migraine headache medications, seizure medications, and injectable sumatriptan.