Amitriptyline is primarily considered an antidepressant as it helps to balance certain chemicals in the brain. More specifically, it is a tricyclic antidepressant, or TCA, and it can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, migraines, and some symptoms of schizophrenia like aggressive or violent behavior.
Amitriptyline is available by prescription only, and it may take up to several weeks before it has an effect. This medication is typically taken orally 1-4 times per day. Only take this medicine under the care of a qualified physician, and do not begin or end without consulting your doctor.
What Diseases and Conditions Can Amitriptyline Treat?
As a tricyclic antidepressant, amitriptyline is often prescribed to patients who suffer from multiple symptoms and chronic conditions including back pain.
There are several different classes and categories of treatable condition for amitriptyline. These include:
Mental Disorders and Conditions:
- Bipolar disorder
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Eating disorders
Chronic Pain and Related Conditions:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Severe migraines
- Chronic back, leg or hip pain
Other Chronic Conditions:
- Ankylosing spondylitis
Amitriptyline is often used as an auxiliary treatment for nerve-related back pain. It may be prescribed with other drugs to reduce the pain caused by multiple sclerosis. It helps to balance brain chemicals and reduce the sharp, burning pain that results from the condition.
Ankylosing spondylitis, a condition that causes vertebral joints to fuse together, often causes intense pain to individuals who suffer from it. Amitriptyline helps reduce the pain caused by the fusing. However, it doesn’t help restore movement to the spine.
Common Side Effects of Amitriptyline
No drug is without its side effects, and amitriptyline is no different. These are a few of the notable side effects this medication may cause:
- Dry mouth
- Increased or reduced appetite
- Weight gain or loss
- Reduced libido
- Blurry vision
- Burning or tingling sensation in the extremities
More serious side effects include muscle spasms, chest pains, swelling or adverse allergic reaction.
Amitriptyline may lead to suicidal thoughts in patients under 25 years of age.
Patients suffering from any of these side effects should contact their physician immediately. Your physician may recommend continuing the prescription, reducing dosage or stopping the prescription and developing a new plan for treatment.
Additionally, patients should not stop taking the medication without oversight from a doctor. There may be some withdrawal effects from ending treatment suddenly such as increased headaches, fatigue and bouts of nausea.
How to Decide if Amitriptyline is Right for You
Study the treatments for which amitriptyline is recommended and see if you fit many or most of the symptoms that it treats. Consider the minor side effects and consult with your doctor about your condition to know if this medication is right for you.