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Amitriptyline (By mouth)

Treats depression. This medicine is a TCA.

What works?

Learn more about the effects of these drugs. The most reliable research is summed up for you in our featured article.

Amitriptyline is used to treat symptoms of depression. It works on the central nervous system (CNS) to increase levels of certain chemicals in the brain. This medicine is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA). This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription… Read more
Brand names include
Elavil, Vanatrip
Drug classes About this
Antidepressant, Urinary Enuresis Agent
Combinations including this drug

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Amitriptyline for the treatment of depression

Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant drug that has been used for decades in the treatment of depression. The current review includes 39 trials with a total of 3509 participants and confirms its efficacy compared to placebo or no treatment. This finding is important, because the efficacy of antidepressants has recently been questioned. However, the review also demonstrated that amitriptyline produces a number of side effects such as vision problems, constipation and sedation. It is a limitation of this review that many studies have been poorly reported, which might have led to bias.

Amitriptyline for depression

Amitriptyline still has a place in the pharmacological management of depressive episodes. The findings of this systematic review showed that in comparison with control agents, amitriptyline was slightly more effective, but the burden of side‐effects was greater for patients receiving it.

Amitriptyline for neuropathic pain in adults

Neuropathic pain is pain coming from damaged nerves, and can have a variety of different names. Some of the more common are painful diabetic neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia, or post‐stroke pain. It is different from pain messages that are carried along healthy nerves from damaged tissue (for example, a fall, or cut, or arthritic knee). Neuropathic pain is treated by different medicines to those used for pain from damaged tissue. Medicines such as paracetamol or ibuprofen are not usually effective in neuropathic pain, while medicines that are sometimes used to treat depression or epilepsy can be very effective in some people with neuropathic pain.

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Summaries for consumers

Amitriptyline for the treatment of depression

Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant drug that has been used for decades in the treatment of depression. The current review includes 39 trials with a total of 3509 participants and confirms its efficacy compared to placebo or no treatment. This finding is important, because the efficacy of antidepressants has recently been questioned. However, the review also demonstrated that amitriptyline produces a number of side effects such as vision problems, constipation and sedation. It is a limitation of this review that many studies have been poorly reported, which might have led to bias.

Amitriptyline for depression

Amitriptyline still has a place in the pharmacological management of depressive episodes. The findings of this systematic review showed that in comparison with control agents, amitriptyline was slightly more effective, but the burden of side‐effects was greater for patients receiving it.

Amitriptyline for neuropathic pain in adults

Neuropathic pain is pain coming from damaged nerves, and can have a variety of different names. Some of the more common are painful diabetic neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia, or post‐stroke pain. It is different from pain messages that are carried along healthy nerves from damaged tissue (for example, a fall, or cut, or arthritic knee). Neuropathic pain is treated by different medicines to those used for pain from damaged tissue. Medicines such as paracetamol or ibuprofen are not usually effective in neuropathic pain, while medicines that are sometimes used to treat depression or epilepsy can be very effective in some people with neuropathic pain.

See all (41)

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