What are the possible risks and side-effects of amitriptyline?
The most common side-effect is a dry mouth. You may also feel drowsy or spaced out in the morning or during the day, especially if you take the amitriptyline too late at night.
Make sure you take the dose no later than 8pm or try starting with a very low dose and building up gradually over a few weeks, which may reduce side-effects.
Take care when driving or operating machinery.
Less common side-effects include:
- difficulty passing urine – especially in men with prostate problems
- dizziness – due to a fall in blood pressure, especially in older people
- blurred vision
- weight gain or weight loss.
There's no evidence that amitriptyline is addictive or causes dependency, especially at low doses.
What should I do if I experience side-effects?
If you do have side-effects, it's often worth continuing the treatment as they'll usually lessen with time. But if you have any unusual side-effects or symptoms that concern you, see your doctor immediately.
Take extra care if:
- you're being treated for epilepsy – amitriptyline may cause more frequent seizures
- you have heart problems – see your doctor if you experience an irregular heartbeat while on amitriptyline
- you have glaucoma – make sure you have regular eye tests with an optician.
If you find amitriptyline isn't right for you, then speak to your doctor who may suggest other treatments, for example:
- imipramine (another tricyclic antidepressant)
- SNRIs (serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors)
- SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).
These are less sedative than amitriptyline, so may be helpful if drowsiness is a problem for you.