Elavil (Amitriptyline)

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Elavil (Amitriptyline) Dosage and Side Effects

ELAVIL is a prescription drug that's used to treat depression.ELAVIL can be used "off-label" to treat post-herpetic neuralgia (a condition that occurs after having shingles), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), fibromyalgia, and certain eating disorders. It may also be used to prevent symptoms of migraines.

Warnings and Precautions

The FDA requires ELAVIL to carry a black-box warning because of the risk of suicide.

In short-term studies, a small number of children, teen-agers and young adults (up to 24 years old) who took antidepressants such as ELAVIL became suicidal shortly after starting treatment.

You may have suicidal thoughts while taking an antidepressant, especially if you are younger than 24 years old.

Your family members or other caregivers should watch for changes in your mood or other symptoms.

You, a family member, or caregiver should tell your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms while taking ELAVIL (especially during the first weeks of treatment or any time you change your dose):

  • Thoughts of harming or killing yourself
  • Worsening depression
  • Extreme worry or other new feelings of anxiousness
  • Agitation
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Unusual restlessness
  • Unusual mood or behavior changes
  • Unusual excitement or hyperactivity
  • Agitation, hostility, or aggressiveness
  • Unusually impulsive behavior

Children under age 18 should not take ELAVIL, but in rare cases, a doctor may decide the benefits outweigh the risks.

Before having any type of surgery, you should tell your surgeon that you are taking ELAVIL.

You may also need to make a plan with the doctor who prescribed the drug to carefully taper off before surgery.

You should not stop taking ELAVIL suddenly, as you could experience withdrawal symptoms.

It may take a few weeks before you feel the full effects of this medication.

Use this drug as directed, stay in touch with your doctor during your treatment for depression, and tell your doctor if ELAVIL isn't helping after four weeks.

Before taking ELAVIL, you should tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • A history of heart attack, stroke, or seizures
  • A history of drinking large amounts of alcohol
  • Bipolar disorder (manic depression), schizophrenia, or any other mental illness
  • Diabetes
  • Glaucoma
  • Overactive thyroid
  • An enlarged prostate
  • Urination problems

Pregnancy and ELAVIL

ELAVIL might harm an unborn baby.

Tell your doctor if you're pregnant or might become pregnant while using this medicine.

You should not breastfeed while using this drug. ELAVIL can also pass into breast milk and may harm a breastfeeding baby.

ELAVIL 'High' and Abuse

There have been some anecdotal reports that consuming larger doses of ELAVIL can lead to a "high" or hallucinations in some people.

Trying to get a high off of ELAVIL or any prescription medication is extremely dangerous and could lead to severe side effects or a life-threatening overdose.

Because of its abuse potential, and the risk of serious side effects, keep this and all medications away from children, teenagers, and anyone for whom it was not prescribed.

ELAVIL for Dogs and Cats

ELAVIL is commonly used in dogs and cats to treat behavior issues, such as separation anxiety, fear of noises, or other types of anxiousness.

The medicine requires a prescription from your pet's veterinarian, and should only be used under a veterinarian's care..

ELAVIL and Weight Gain

Weight gain is a common side effect of ELAVIL.

However, you can make adjustments to your eating habits and engage in regular physical activity to counter this effect.

ELAVIL and Sleep

ELAVIL is often used as an "off-label" treatment for insomnia.

However, some doctors believe there are safer, more effective sleep therapies available, so the drug is rarely prescribed for insomnia anymore.

Side Effects

Common Side Effects of ELAVIL

You should tell your doctor if any of the following side effects are severe or do not go away:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Drowsiness or tiredness
  • Nightmares
  • Excessive sweating
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain, burning, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Changes in sex drive or ability
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Confusion
  • Unsteadiness

Serious Side Effects of ELAVIL

Tell your doctor or go to an emergency room right away if you experience any of the following serious side effects:

  • Slow or difficult speech
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Weakness or numbness of an arm or a leg
  • Crushing or heavy chest pain
  • Rapid, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
  • Severe skin rash or hives
  • Swelling of the face and tongue
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • Jaw, neck, and back muscle spasms
  • Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
  • Fainting
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

Interactions with this medication

You should tell your doctor if you are taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), and tranylcypromine (Parnate); or if you have taken an MAOI in the past 14 days.

If you have used MAOIs recently, your doctor will probably tell you not to take ELAVIL.

You should tell your doctor about all prescription, nonprescription, illegal, recreational, herbal, nutritional, or dietary drugs you're taking, especially:

  • Antihistamines
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Diet pills
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Guanethidine (Ismelin)
  • Ipratropium (Atrovent)
  • Quinidine (Quinidex)
  • Medications for irregular heartbeats such as flecainide (Tambocor) and propafenone (Rythmol)
  • Medications for anxiety, asthma, colds, irritable bowel disease, mental illness, nausea, Parkinson's disease, seizures, ulcers, or urinary problems
  • Other antidepressants
  • Phenobarbital (Bellatal, Solfoton)
  • Sedatives, sleeping pills, or any drug that makes you sleepy, including cold medicines
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Thyroid medications
  • Tranquilizers

You should also tell your doctor if you have stopped taking fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem) in the past five weeks.

Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.

ELAVIL and Alcohol

Alcohol may block the antidepressant action of this medication and increase its sedative effect.

You should talk to your doctor about this risk.

ELAVIL and Other Interactions

ELAVIL may make you drowsy.

You should not drive, operate machinery, or perform any other activity that requires alertness until you know how this medicine will affect you.

Proper Use of this medication

ELAVIL comes in a tablet form.

The recommended dose is 100-300 milligrams (mg) for most adults, and 25 mg for elderly patients. The initial dose is typically between 50-100 mg.

This medicine can be taken with or without food.

ELAVIL Overdose

If you suspect an overdose, you should contact a poison-control center or emergency room immediately.

You can get in touch with a poison-control center.

Missed Dose of ELAVIL

If you miss a dose of ELAVIL, take it as soon as you remember, unless it's almost time for your next dose.

Then you should skip the missed dose and continue on your regular medication schedule.

Do not double up on doses to make up for a missed one.

Other related products

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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