Side effects of amitriptyline

Side effects of tricyclic antidepressants as a group are listed below. Not everyone experiences these side effects — the way an antidepressant affects you is quite individual, so you might need to try more than one to find the one that suits you best.

Some of the side effects will last only a week or two after you first start taking the medicine (e.g. insomnia, nausea and dizziness), while others (e.g. sexual side effects) tend to persist. If you find any side effects troublesome, talk to your doctor about how to manage them, or about switching to another medicine.

Remember that the risk of side effects with any medicine needs to be weighed against its benefit in treating your condition. Your doctor can help you weigh up the risks and benefits of taking particular medicine. See also Is this medicine right for me?

Frequency of side effects with tricyclic antidepressants

Common (1% of people or more)Infrequent (between 0.1% and 1% of people)Rare (fewer than 0.1% of people)
  • Sedation
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Dizziness on standing
  • High heart rate
  • Problems urinating
  • Slow rate of digestion (can cause nausea, bloating)
  • Confusion (particularly in the elderly and in Parkinson’s disease)
  • Sexual problems (loss of libido, difficulty reaching orgasm)
  • Shakiness or trembling
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in rhythm or rate of heart beat
  • Changes in electrical signals in the heart
  • Nausea
  • High blood sugar level
  • Breast enlargement in males
  • Breast enlargement and milk production in females
  • Allergic skin reactions
  • Manic episodes (overexcitement and uninhibited behaviour)
  • Imbalance in amounts of different types of blood cells
  • Hepatitis
  • Paralysis of the intestines
  • Seizures (fits)
  • Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH). This causes low blood sodium, which can have serious consequences (seizures, coma or in severe cases, death)
  • increased pressure in the eye
This is not a complete list of amitriptyline’s side effects. See the consumer medicine information (CMI) for more information.

Amitriptyline and driving or operating machinery

Do not drive or operate machinery until you know how this medicine affects you.

Who can I ask about side effects?

If you’re concerned that you or someone in your care is having side effects related to a medicine, seek medical advice.

Call the NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) to get information about your prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and minerals) from a pharmacist. Your call will be answered by healthdirect Australia.

To report and discuss possible side effects, call the Adverse Medicines Events (AME) line on 1300 134 237 from anywhere in Australia (Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm).

Find out more about

If you are starting amitriptyline, see 10 things you should know about antidepressants.

You can also read more about depression and the options for treating it.

For more information

The consumer medicine information (CMI) for your brand of amitriptyline is available from our website or a pharmacist. If you have any concerns about side effects, talk to your health professional. The CMI includes:

  • how to take this medicine
  • what to do if you forget to take it
  • if you take too much (overdose)
  • things you must and must not do while taking this medicine
  • signs of severe reactions and what to do.
  • Australian Medicines Handbook 2015. Adelaide: Australian Medicines Handbook Pty Ltd; 2015 January. [Online]