Elavil is used to treat mental/mood problems such as depression. It may help improve mood and feelings of well-being, relieve anxiety and tension, help you sleep better, and increase your energy level. This medication belongs to a class of medications called tricyclic antidepressants. It works by affecting the balance of certain natural chemicals (neurotransmitters such as serotonin) in the brain.
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OTHER USES: This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.
Elavil may also be used to treat nerve pain (such as peripheral neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia), eating disorder (bulimia), other mental/mood problems (such as anxiety, panic disorder), or to prevent migraine headaches.
HOW TO USE: Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start taking amitriptyline and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Take this medication by mouth, usually 1 to 4 times daily or as directed by your doctor. If you take it only once a day, take it at bedtime to help reduce daytime sleepiness. The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.
To reduce your risk of side effects (such as drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness), your doctor may direct you to start this medication at a low dose and gradually increase your dose. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully.
Take amitriptyline regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time(s) each day. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase.
It is important to continue taking this medication even if you feel well. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when this drug is suddenly stopped. Also, you may experience symptoms such as mood swings, headache, tiredness, and sleep change. To prevent these symptoms while you are stopping treatment with this drug, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details. Report any new or worsening symptoms immediately.
This medication may not work right away. You may see some benefit within a week. However, it may take up to 4 weeks before you feel the full effect.
Tell your doctor if your condition persists or worsens (such as your feelings of sadness get worse, or you have thoughts of suicide).
SIDE EFFECTS: Drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, weight gain, or trouble urinating may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
To reduce the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position.
To relieve dry mouth, suck on (sugarless) hard candy or ice chips, chew (sugarless) gum, drink water, or use a saliva substitute.
To prevent constipation, maintain a diet adequate in fiber, drink plenty of water, and exercise. If you become constipated while using this drug, consult your pharmacist for help in selecting a laxative.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor immediately if any of these rare but serious side effects occur: easy bruising/bleeding, persistent heartburn, shaking, mask-like facial expressions, muscle spasms, severe stomach/abdominal pain, decreased sexual ability/desire, enlarged/painful breasts.
Seek immediate medical attention if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: black stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, severe dizziness, fast/irregular heartbeat, fainting, seizures.
Elavil may rarely cause a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome. The risk increases when this medication is used with certain other drugs (see Drug Interactions section). Seek immediate medical attention if you develop some of the following symptoms: hallucinations, unusual restlessness, loss of coordination, unexplained fever, severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, twitching muscles.
This drug may rarely cause a serious condition called neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). Seek immediate medical attention if you develop the following: unexplained fever, muscle stiffness, severe confusion, sweating.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
PRECAUTIONS: Before taking amitriptyline, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it, or to other tricyclic antidepressants (such as nortriptyline), or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: bleeding problems, breathing problems, liver problems, recent heart attack, problems urinating (such as due to enlarged prostate), overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), a certain eye problem (glaucoma), personal or family history of mental/mood conditions (such as bipolar disorder, psychosis), family history of suicide, seizures, conditions that may increase your risk of seizures (such as other brain disease, alcohol withdrawal).
Amitriptyline may cause a condition that affects the heart rhythm (QT prolongation). QT prolongation can infrequently result in serious (rarely fatal) fast/irregular heartbeat and other symptoms (such as severe dizziness, fainting) that require immediate medical attention. The risk of QT prolongation may be increased if you have certain medical conditions or are taking other drugs that may affect the heart rhythm (see also Drug Interactions section). Before using amitriptyline, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any of the following conditions: certain heart problems (heart failure, slow heartbeat, QT prolongation in the EKG), family history of certain heart problems (QT prolongation in the EKG, sudden cardiac death).
Low levels of potassium or magnesium in the blood may also increase your risk of QT prolongation. This risk may increase if you use certain drugs (such as diuretics/"water pills") or if you have conditions such as severe sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting. Talk to your doctor about using amitriptyline safely.
This drug may make you drowsy or dizzy or cause blurred vision. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness or clear vision until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
This medication may make you more sensitive to the sun. Avoid prolonged sun exposure, tanning booths, and sunlamps. Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors.
If you have diabetes, this drug may make it harder to control your blood sugar levels. Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and tell your doctor of the results. Your doctor may need to adjust your diabetes medication, exercise program, or diet.
Caution is advised when using this drug in older adults because they may be more sensitive to its side effects, especially dry mouth, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and difficulty urinating.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Since untreated depression can be a serious condition, do not stop using this medication unless directed by your doctor. If you are planning pregnancy, become pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, immediately discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using this medication during pregnancy.
This medication passes into breast milk and the effect on a nursing infant is unknown. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
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