What does amitriptyline do and how effective is it?
What does amitriptyline do?
Amitriptyline belongs to a group of medicines called tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). Serotonin and noradrenaline are neurotransmitters — chemicals that relay signals between the cells in your brain. TCAs increase the amount of these two neurotransmitters in your brain, and this is how amitriptyline is thought to improve the symptoms of depression.
Read more about TCAs.
How effective is amitriptyline?
About 50% of people treated with antidepressants find their depression symptoms are halved.
Although all antidepressants have shown similar efficacy when tested in groups of people in clinical trials, keep in mind that individuals can find one antidepressant works better for them than another. So if the first antidepressant you try doesn’t seem to be working for you after a few weeks, talk to your doctor about switching to another. A psychological therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), could also be an option.
Find out more about
- Who amitriptyline is for and who should be cautious
- Side effects of amitriptyline
- Interactions with amitriptyline
- Brands of amitriptyline
If you are starting amitriptyline, see 10 things you should know about antidepressants.
For more information
- Starting, switching and stopping antidepressants
- Managing side effects of antidepressants
- Psychological therapies
The consumer medicine information (CMI) for your brand of amitriptyline is available from our website or a pharmacist. 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.
- Rossi S, ed. eAMH [online]. Adelaide: Australian Medicines Handbook, 2012. www.amh.net.au. (Accessed 9 February 2012).
- Psychotropic Expert Group. Therapeutic Guidelines: Psychotropic, Version 6. In: eTG complete [CD-ROM]. Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines Limited; 2008.
- Alphapharm Pty Ltd. Endep consumer medicine information. 7 May 2008. (Accessed 22 March 2012).
- Williams JW Jr, Mulrow CD, Chiquette E, et al. A systematic review of newer pharmacotherapies for depression in adults: evidence report summary. Ann Intern Med 2000;132:743–56. [PubMed]
- National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health. Depression: the NICE guideline on the treatment and management of depression in adults (updated edition). London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/live/12329/45896/45896.pdf (accessed 9 February 2012).