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All about: Elavil

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Generic Name: amitriptyline (a mee TRIP ti leen)
Brand Names: Elavil, Endep, Vanatrip

What is amitriptyline?

Amitriptyline is in a group of drugs called tricyclic antidepressants. Amitriptyline affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced.

Amitriptyline is used to treat symptoms of depression.

Amitriptyline may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about amitriptyline?

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to amitriptyline, or if you have recently had a heart attack. Do not use amitriptyline if you have taken cisapride (Propulsid) or used an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) within the past 14 days.

You may have thoughts about suicide when you first start taking an antidepressant, especially if you are younger than 24 years old. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits for at least the first 12 weeks of treatment.

Call your doctor at once if you have any new or worsening symptoms such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking amitriptyline?

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to amitriptyline, or if you have recently had a heart attack. Do not use amitriptyline if you have taken cisapride (Propulsid) or used an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) within the past 14 days. Serious, life-threatening side effects can occur if you take amitriptyline before the MAO inhibitor has cleared from your body.

Before taking amitriptyline, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:

  • heart disease;

  • a history of heart attack, stroke, or seizures;

  • bipolar disorder (manic-depression);

  • schizophrenia or other mental illness;

  • diabetes (amitriptyline may raise or lower blood sugar);

  • overactive thyroid;

  • glaucoma; or

  • problems with urination.

If you have any of these conditions, you may not be able to use amitriptyline, or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment.

You may have thoughts about suicide when you first start taking an antidepressant, especially if you are younger than 24 years old. Tell your doctor if you have worsening symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts during the first several weeks of treatment, or whenever your dose is changed.

Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits for at least the first 12 weeks of treatment.

FDA pregnancy category C. This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. Amitriptyline can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. Do not give this medication to anyone under 18 years old without the advice of a doctor.

How should I take amitriptyline?

Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

If you need to have any type of surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are taking amitriptyline. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.

Do not stop using amitriptyline without first talking to your doctor. You may need to use less and less before you stop the medication completely. Stopping this medication suddenly could cause you to have unpleasant side effects. It may take up to 4 weeks of using this medicine before your symptoms improve. For best results, keep using the medication as directed. Talk with your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after 4 weeks of treatment. Store amitriptyline at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. An overdose of amitriptyline can be fatal.

Symptoms of an amitriptyline overdose may include uneven heartbeats, extreme drowsiness, confusion, agitation, vomiting, blurred vision, feeling hot or cold, sweating, muscle stiffness, feeling light-headed, fainting, seizure (convulsions), or coma.

What should I avoid while taking amitriptyline?

Avoid drinking alcohol. It can cause dangerous side effects when taken together with amitriptyline.

Avoid using other medicines that make you sleepy (such as cold medicine, pain medication, muscle relaxers, medicine for seizures, or other antidepressants).

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with amitriptyline. Discuss the use of grapefruit products with your doctor before increasing or decreasing the amount of grapefruit products in your diet.

Amitriptyline can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert. Avoid exposure to sunlight or artificial UV rays (sunlamps or tanning beds). Amitriptyline can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and sunburn may result. Use a sunscreen (minimum SPF 15) and wear protective clothing if you must be out in the sun.

Amitriptyline side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have any new or worsening symptoms such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
  • fast, pounding, or uneven heart rate, chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling;

  • sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body;

  • sudden headache, confusion, problems with vision, speech, or balance;

  • hallucinations, or seizures (convulsions), feeling light-headed, fainting;

  • restless muscle movements in your eyes, tongue, jaw, or neck, uncontrollable shaking or tremor;

  • skin rash, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness;

  • easy bruising or bleeding;

  • extreme thirst with headache, nausea, vomiting, and weakness; or

  • urinating less than usual or not at all.

Less serious side effects may be more likely to occur, such as:

  • nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite;

  • dry mouth, unpleasant taste;

  • feeling dizzy, drowsy, or tired;

  • trouble concentrating;

  • nightmares;

  • blurred vision, headache, ringing in your ears;

  • breast swelling (in men or women); or

  • decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect amitriptyline?

Before taking amitriptyline, tell your doctor if you have used an "SSRI" antidepressant in the past 5 weeks, such as citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), or sertraline (Zoloft).

Before taking amitriptyline, tell your doctor if you are currently using any of the following drugs:

  • cimetidine (Tagamet);

  • guanethidine (Ismelin);

  • disulfiram (Antabuse); or

  • heart rhythm medications such as flecainide (Tambocor), propafenone (Rhythmol), or quinidine (Cardioquin, Quinidex, Quinaglute).

If you are using any of these drugs, you may not be able to use amitriptyline, or you may need dosage adjustments or special tests during treatment.

There are many other medicines that can interact with amitriptyline. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor. Keep a list with you of all the medicines you use and show this list to any doctor or other healthcare provider who treats you.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist has information about amitriptyline written for health professionals that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

Amitriptyline is available with a prescription generically and under the brand names Elavil and Endep. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 6.02. Revision Date: 05/23/2007 12:32:18 PM.

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