Amitriptyline is an antidepressant that has been approved for treating major or clinical depression. It basically affects the levels of brain chemicals in order to treat the symptoms of depression. Usually, it increases the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, which in turn helps reduce the sadness and gloom associated with depression. But one can experience some adverse reactions while using this drug, especially when it is used for the first time. However, all people may not experience these side effects.
As has been mentioned already, this antidepressant medication is primarily used for the treatment of clinical depression. Some European countries have however, approved it for treating chronic migraine as well. This drug is also used to alleviate the chronic pain caused by a condition, known as ankylosing spondylitis. Occasionally, it may be prescribed for conditions like insomnia, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, neurological pain, and multiple sclerosis.
The side effects associated with amitriptyline are generally attributed to its action on the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. This antidepressant can block the action of acetylcholine, and thus cause dry mouth, drowsiness, constipation, dizziness, hair loss, confusion, and excessive sweating. These are the most common side effects associated with this drug. It can also affect the level of blood sugar and cause weight gain.
Sometimes, this drug can worsen the symptoms of depression in some individuals. They may develop suicidal thoughts and behavior while using this antidepressant for the first time. This side effect has been observed in some studies carried out in children and adolescents with depression and other psychiatric disorders. In fact, this is one of the most serious side effects of this drug in children and individuals younger than 24 years, which needs to be immediately reported to a physician.
Occasionally, this drug can also give rise to some other serious complications like arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, palpitation, heart attacks, strokes, breast enlargement, jaundice, anxiety and panic attacks, sleep disorders, changes in mood or behavior, chest pain, fainting, blurred vision, unusual bleeding or bruising, seizures, delusion, and hallucinations. These serious side effects call for immediate medical attention.
On the other hand, people allergic to amitriptyline can develop a severe allergic reaction after taking this medication. An allergic reaction to this drug can manifest in skin rash or hives, unexplained swelling, especially swelling of the face, throat and tongue, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Apart from these, some other side effects of this medication include, nausea and vomiting, fainting, urinary retention, erectile dysfunction, restlessness, tinnitus, psychosis, and excessive thirst. The sudden withdrawal of this drug can also produce a few symptoms like headache, nausea, irritability, and insomnia.
People with heart disease, schizophrenia, glaucoma, and diabetes should not take this antidepressant without consulting their physicians. The safety of amitriptyline during pregnancy has not been properly evaluated, but this drug can pass into breast milk. Therefore, pregnant and nursing mothers should not take this drug without consulting their physicians. Lastly, this drug can interact with certain medications, especially the monoamine oxidase inhibiting drugs. So, be sure to disclose all information related to your health problems, as well as the kind of medication you are using, to your health care provider before taking this antidepressant drug.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.