What Are the Side Effects of Amitriptyline?


Amitriptyline is a drug often prescribed under the brand name, Elavil. It is a tricyclic antidepressant that is used to treat the symptoms of depression. Amitriptyline is only available by prescription, and it can cause a number of mild to severe side effects dependent on the dosage, particular individual, and other variables.


Amitriptyline is specifically classified under the group of drugs known as tricyclic antidepressants. The mechanism of action of amitriptyline is not fully known, but it is believed that the medication balances certain chemicals of the brain. By increasing the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin particularly, amitriptyline is thought to help elevate mood.

Common Side Effects

According to Drugs.com, the use of amitriptyline may lead to a number of common side effects including vision changes, nausea, insomnia, headaches, weakness, loss of appetite, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, drowsiness and constipation. Dry mouth, constipation and blurred vision are among the most common side effects reported. If one or several of the side effects from the above list persist or intensify, seek immediate medical attention.

Severe Side Effects

Amitriptyline use can lead to serious side effects including but not limited to: fast, or uneven heart rate, feelings of numbness, muscle pain and weakness, seizures, easy bruising and bleeding, irregular urination, chest pain, worsening signs of depression, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, aggression and irritability, severe insomnia, severe vision problems, and yellowing of the skin. Severe allergic reaction to the medication may also occur as a result of use. According to Drugs.com, some investigators have reported that the use of amitriptyline can cause 4-5 seizures for every 1,000 patients. Contact your doctor immediately if any of the preceding severe side effects occur.

Using Amitriptyline

Amitriptyline must be taken exactly as prescribed to you by your doctor in order to avoid the occurrence of any serious side effects. Never increase your dose or duration of use, and don't stop taking amitriptyline suddenly without direction from your doctor. Amitriptyline can be taken with or without food. Avoid consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice while taking the medication as it may increase the intensity of certain side effects. Store amitriptyline at room temperature and away from heat and moisture.


Do not attempt to drive or operate heavy machinery without first knowing how the medication may affect you. Avoid the intake of alcohol as doing so may increase the severity of certain side effects. Children and teenagers may be at an increased for suicidal thoughts. Amitriptyline can cause individuals to become more sensitive to the sunlight.

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