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Common side effects of Elavil (Amitriptyline)

Updated on August 29, 2015

Elavil is a TCA class antidepressant. Its generic name is amitriptyline. Elavil is used for moderate to severe depression and to treat pain due to problems with the nerves (neuropathic pain). The most common side effects are drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, urinary retention and dry mouth.

Operation of machinery and motor vehicle driving can be dangerous with these side effects. Other side effects may be divided into cardiac, endocrine (hormonal imbalance), and neurological.

Side effects affecting the heart

Heart rhythm disturbances are common. These include increased heart rate, heart block and several other rhythm abnormalities. They are usually common in elderly patients.

Sometimes, these anomalies can cause low blood pressure and dizziness, especially when they get up from bed (postural hypotension). The doctor usually takes an ECG before prescribing Elavil, it is to make sure you do not have a heart anomaly.

Side effects affecting nerves

These are also common in older patients. Anxiety, dizziness, anxiety, confusion, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and tingling in the hands are the most important side effects.

Some patients complain of psychiatric problems, such as hallucinations, delusions, mania, and hypo mania (a milder form of mania). Also, rarely, patients may develop seizures. Tremor similar to Parkinson's disease may develop in a small number of patients.

Endocrine side effects

Few patients complain of breast enlargement, abnormal secretion of breast milk, even in men. Usually, these side effects occur after prolonged use of the drug. Some patients may complain or even stop the medication without consulting a doctor due to sexual problems that are caused by Elavil.

Weight gain and increased appetite is another common side effect. But rarely some patients complain of weight loss and appetite.

What are the contraindications and cautions?

Doctors take extra precautions when prescribing Elavil to patients with heart disease, hyperthyroidism, epilepsy and liver failure. Since the neurotransmitter acetylcholine blocks Elavil, patients with BPH (enlarged prostate), chronic constipation and increased intraocular pressure (increased eye pressure) should discuss their medical history with the prescriber.

Patients with psychosis, bipolar disorder may find their condition worsened, with Elavil. Patients with bipolar disorder may be manic with the Elavil.

Doctors do not use Elavil in the immediate recovery phase of acute myocardial infarction and during the manic phase of bipolar disorder, acute porphyria and severe liver disease. However, most side effects should become tolerable after some time.


The irritability of the newborn may occur if taken during the last three months of pregnancy.

Breast feeding

The amount secreted in breast milk is too low, but drug manufacturer advises not use it during breast feeding.


Elavil is an antidepressant medication. It has some side effects. The most common are fatigue, faintishness, dry mouth and urinary retention.


BNF 59th edition


Even though the author of this article is a Medical doctor, contents of this article are for information only. You should always consult your doctor, before starting or stopping Elavil. In addition, medical information can change over time.

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      Ruby Jean Richert 

      8 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Voted useful. Thank you.


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