Elavil (Amitriptyline): Usage, Side Effects & Dosage
Elavil is a tricyclic antidepressant. The generic version, amitriptyline, is used to treat conditions such as depression, IBS, anxiety, and chronic pain.
If you would like to learn more about AMFM’s individualized programs to aid those struggling with mental health disorders, please reach out.
We look forward to hearing from you: (844) 993-2217
What is Elavil (Amitriptyline)?
Elavil medicine, which goes by the generic name amitriptyline, used to be prescribed for the treatment of multiple conditions. It was originally most used to manage depression.
However, current research also shows that Elavil uses include helping treat chronic pain in adults. Many doctors regard it as a great choice for those who suffer from chronic pain, estimating that it can help nearly one in four people.1
Side Effects of Amitriptyline
Both the Elavil medication and Endep, another amitriptyline medication, have been discontinued, but the Elavil generic version, amitriptyline, is currently available. All these medications are considered to be tricyclic antidepressants, which is one of the earliest antidepressant types to be developed.
In addition to treating depression, Elavil uses include helping with OCD, bedwetting, migraines, tension headaches, PMS, and many other conditions. The medication has been prescribed to patients ever since the 1960s, and it is more affordable than newer medications on the market today.
Tricyclic antidepressants work by increasing serotonin and norepinephrine neurotransmitters while blocking a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. It is believed that tricyclic antidepressants balance chemicals in the brain in a way that relieves depression. In addition, this type of antidepressant triggers sedation and slightly blocks the effects of histamine.
Like any medication, there are side effects when it comes to taking Elavil generic. It’s important to be aware of amitriptyline interactions as well.
Although most symptoms are considered mild and typically go away within a few days, some amitriptyline side effects are serious and warrant a call to the doctor.
Common Elavil side effects include:
Mask-like facial expressions
Sudden drop in blood pressure
Dizziness and blurred vision
Although these are the most common amitriptyline side effects, this list is not all-inclusive. Speak with your medical provider about any symptoms you may be experiencing to find out if your medication could be causing it.
Serious Side Effects of Amitriptyline
Some amitriptyline side effects, although rare, are life-threatening. Call 911 immediately if you experience the following symptoms:2
- Weakness on one side
- Slurred speech, which could indicate a stroke
- Heart palpitation or rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath or chest pain, which could be a heart attack
In addition, all antidepressants were given a black box warning by the FDA in 2007. Researchers found that antidepressants increase the risk of suicidal ideation in individuals compared to the placebo pill. This is particularly true for young adults, especially children and teenagers, who took part in short-term studies on major depressive disorder, or MDD.
Signs to Look Out For
Anyone who is considering antidepressants must weigh this risk against their clinical needs. Additionally, patients should be monitored when starting medication for suicidal behavior and worsening depression.
Keep an eye out for the following behavior:
- Panic attacks
- Akathisia or psychomotor restlessness
- Emergence of anxiety
These symptoms may indicate a potential for suicidal behavior. Parents and caregivers need to be alert for any sudden changes since these symptoms can be abrupt. If you notice someone exhibiting any of the listed behaviors, it should signal you to monitor them more closely and consider having them change to a different medication at the guidance of their healthcare provider.
No two individuals are the same. Your body size, gender, metabolism, and age are just some of the many unique factors that will influence how the medication affects you. It is important to speak with your doctor about your dosage to ensure that you are prescribed the appropriate dose of Elavil.
Adult Dose for Depression
The dosage for depression is much higher than the dose required to manage chronic pain. The standard dose for amitriptyline is 75mg administered throughout the day or anywhere from 50mg to 100mg all at once in the evening. Typically, the dosage is no more than 150mg per day, unless the individual is in the hospital, which may come with the need for higher doses. Amitriptyline dosage for anxiety should be at the discretion of a medical professional.3
Geriatric Dose for Depression
Older adults are more sensitive to the effects of Elavil amitriptyline. As a result, they should start with a lower dosage, starting at 10mg three times a day, plus 20mg at bedtime.3
It should be noted that Elavil is not typically given to people over the age of sixty. Newer forms of antidepressants are generally considered a better choice for this age group, which are at a higher risk of more serious side effects.
Pediatric Dose for Depression
Teenagers are recommended lower doses of Elavil amitriptyline. The standard recommended dosage is 10mg three times per day or 20mg per night.3
There is no safety study for children younger than twelve years old. As such, children are typically not prescribed Elavil. However, there are exceptions to this commonality. In those cases, the uses and dosages are determined on a case-by-case basis by a doctor.
Warnings and Interactions
Elavil is not suitable for everyone. Individuals who are taking other medications could experience severe side effects, especially if one of those medications has poor interactions with amitriptyline. Always check with your doctor if you have any questions about the warnings or interactions of Elavil.
When Should You Not Use Elavil?
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, the medication has the potential to affect your child. It is best to stay away from Elavil medicine if you are pregnant. Additionally, Elavil is also not suited for people who have heart conditions, such as arrhythmias and heart disease. If these circumstances apply to you, be sure to talk to your doctor about other alternative options.
What Other Drugs Will Affect Elavil?
Multiple drugs can have interactions with amitriptyline. Some of the most common medicines and their interactions include Quinidine, MAOIs, opioids, topiramate, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.
- Quinidine can create heart problems.
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can result in seizures or death.
- Opioids, such as codeine, increase your risk of developing serotonin syndrome, which will increase your blood pressure and heart rate.
- Topiramate increases the risk of adverse side effects.
- Epinephrine and norepinephrine both increase blood pressure, invoke headaches, and cause chest pain when paired with Elavil.
Keep in mind that this is not a complete list of every medication that can interact poorly with Elavil amitriptyline. Discuss any medications you are taking with your doctor. Be sure to mention over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements in your conversation.
Some questions that you might have about Elavil could include:
Is Elavil Medicine a Good Sleeping Pill?
Sleep is frustrating and elusive for many of us. In fact, according to the CDC, over 35% of American adults are not getting the sleep that they need every night.4 As a result, many of us need help falling and staying asleep.
Sometimes, doctors consider prescribing amitriptyline to improve sleep because it is less expensive than traditional sleep medication. Plus, it’s not habit-forming. Amitriptyline has a mild tranquilizing effect, so it is widely prescribed to assist individuals with insomnia.
Most tricyclic antidepressants differ in how they affect norepinephrine, serotonin, and acetylcholine in the brain. Elavil amitriptyline, in particular, is known to cause sedation because of its effect on the neurotransmitters and the way by which it blocks histamines.
However, do not drink alcohol if you take Elavil for sleep because the combination can result in severe drowsiness. Also, avoid driving or operating machinery until your body is well-adjusted to the medication. The amitriptyline dose for sleep is typically 1mg to 5mg thirty minutes to two hours before bed.
Is Elavil Considered a Narcotic?
Elavil is not considered a narcotic. Unlike most pain medications, Elavil amitriptyline is neither a narcotic nor is it considered addictive.
Does Elavil Help With IBS?
Low doses of amitriptyline are considered to be a well-tolerated and effective form of therapy for patients with diarrhea-dominant IBS (IBS-D).5 However, it does take time for the medication to work. In most cases, it typically takes two months for the full effects of Elavil to present themselves.
The medicine is frequently utilized to treat patients with either refractory or severe IBS symptoms. Experts believe that amitriptyline has neuromodulatory and analgesic benefits in addition to its psychotropic effects.
Is Elavil FDA-Approved?
Elavil amitriptyline is only FDA-approved for the treatment of depression. However, doctors can prescribe medication for purposes that are not FDA-approved, such as chronic pain and anxiety.