As with all medications and supplements, there are inherent risks and possible side effects associated with usage. Elavil (amitriptyline) is one that has an extensive list of possible side effects and adverse reactions because of the type of medication it is. Tricyclic antidepressants work by blocking the reuptake, or the absorption, of the neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and serotonin. This process makes more of these two neurotransmitters available in the brain, which in turn elevates mood and helps better send and receive messages to and from the brain.
Unfortunately, however, tricyclic antidepressants also affect the regulation and levels of other neurotransmitters because of its three-ring chemical make-up, and this is generally what causes the increased risk of side effects. These symptoms will vary with each patient. It depends on dosage, patient chemistry, and how out of balance the chemical neurotransmitters are. The most common side effects for Elavil (amitriptyline) include, but are not limited to:
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Weight gain
- Trouble with urination
More serious, but rare side effects include:
- Black stools
- Coffee-ground emesis (vomit)
- Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (characterized by muscle stiffness, fever, sweating, fast heart beat, and severe confusion)
Adverse reactions with certain conditions and medications are also possible while taking Elavil (amitriptyline). The difference between adverse reactions and side effects is that adverse reactions are not able to be predicted, but side effects are generalized and common in many patients. Adverse reactions require the immediate stop or significant decrease in the medication, while side effects will generally pass with a small adjustment or over time. This is why it’s imperative to let your treating physician know of all past, current, and family history of medical conditions and treatments before using Elavil (amitriptyline).
Amitriptyline and Alcohol
Due to side effects like drowsiness and dizziness, patients should not drink alcohol while taking this medication, as it is likely to exacerbate symptoms and put them in danger of injury. All antidepressant drugs come with the potential risk of exacerbating depressive symptoms and increasing risk of suicide, so patients will need to be monitored closely while taking this medication for a mood disorder.
Elavil (amitriptyline) withdrawal symptoms are not greatly debilitating since this is not considered an addictive medication. However, it does affect brain chemistry, so if treatment is stopped abruptly after a long period of usage, patients may experience symptoms of nausea, malaise (general feeling of being unwell), and headaches. If the medication is titrated down, however, there are generally no reported withdrawal effects. Some transient symptoms may include irritability, sleep disturbance, and restlessness, however.