Elavil (Amitriptyline) Uses
This medication is used to treat mental/mood problems such as depression. It may help improve mood and feelings of well-being, relieve anxiety and tension, help you sleep better, and increase your energy level. This medication belongs to a class of medications called tricyclic antidepressants. It works by affecting the balance of certain natural chemicals (neurotransmitters such as serotonin) in the brain.
How to use Elavil (Amitriptyline) Tablet
Take this medication by mouth, usually 1 to 4 times daily or as directed by your doctor. If you take it only once a day, take it at bedtime to help reduce daytime sleepiness. The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.
To reduce your risk of side effects (such as drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness), your doctor may direct you to start this medication at a low dose and gradually increase your dose. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.
Take this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time(s) each day. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase.
Keep taking this medication even if you feel well. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when this drug is suddenly stopped. Also, you may experience symptoms such as mood swings, headache, tiredness, and sleep change. To prevent these symptoms while you are stopping treatment with this drug, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details. Report any new or worsening symptoms right away.
This medication may not work right away. You may see some benefit within a week. However, it may take up to 4 weeks before you feel the full effect.
Tell your doctor if your condition persists or worsens (such as your feelings of sadness get worse, or you have thoughts of suicide).
To reduce the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if any of these rare but serious side effects occur: easy bruising/bleeding, persistent heartburn, shaking, mask-like facial expressions, muscle spasms, severe stomach/abdominal pain, decreased sexual ability/desire, enlarged/painful breasts.
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: black stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, severe dizziness, fainting, seizures, eye pain/swelling/redness, widened pupils, vision changes (such as seeing rainbows around lights at night).
This medication may rarely cause a very serious condition called neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). Get medical help right away if you have any of the following symptoms: fever, muscle stiffness, severe confusion, sweating, fast/irregular heartbeat.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
See also Warning section.
Before taking amitriptyline, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it, or to other tricyclic antidepressants (such as nortriptyline), or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: bleeding problems, breathing problems, liver problems, recent heart attack, problems urinating (such as due to enlarged prostate), overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), personal or family history of glaucoma (angle-closure type), personal or family history of mental/mood conditions (such as bipolar disorder, psychosis), family history of suicide, seizures, conditions that may increase your risk of seizures (such as other brain disease, alcohol withdrawal).
Amitriptyline may cause a condition that affects the heart rhythm (QT prolongation). QT prolongation can rarely cause serious (rarely fatal) fast/irregular heartbeat and other symptoms (such as severe dizziness, fainting) that need medical attention right away.
The risk of QT prolongation may be increased if you have certain medical conditions or are taking other drugs that may cause QT prolongation. Before using amitriptyline, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take and if you have any of the following conditions: certain heart problems (heart failure, slow heartbeat, QT prolongation in the EKG), family history of certain heart problems (QT prolongation in the EKG, sudden cardiac death).
Low levels of potassium or magnesium in the blood may also increase your risk of QT prolongation. This risk may increase if you use certain drugs (such as diuretics/”water pills“) or if you have conditions such as severe sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting. Talk to your doctor about using amitriptyline safely.
This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy or blur your vision. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness or clear vision until you can do it safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).
This medication may make you more sensitive to the sun. Limit your time in the sun. Avoid tanning booths and sunlamps. Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors. Tell your doctor right away if you get sunburned or have skin blisters/redness.
If you have diabetes, this drug may make it harder to control your blood sugar levels. Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and tell your doctor of the results. Your doctor may need to adjust your diabetes medication, exercise program, or diet.
Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially dry mouth, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, constipation, difficulty urinating, and QT prolongation (see above). Dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion can increase the risk of falling.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Since untreated mental/mood problems (such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder) can be a serious condition, do not stop using this medication unless directed by your doctor. If you are planning pregnancy, become pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, immediately discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using this medication during pregnancy.