Active Ingredients

Amitriptyline – Effect, Application & Risks


Amitriptyline is one of the first antidepressants that has been on the market since the early 1960s. It is primarily used for depression associated with anxiety disorders . Another area of ​​application is pain therapy .

What is amitriptyline?

The antidepressant amitriptyline was first manufactured in 1960 and launched two years later. Until the introduction of serotonin reuptake inhibitors, amitriptyline was the most widely prescribed antidepressant worldwide.

And even today, this active ingredient is still one of the psychotropic drugs that are most frequently prescribed in Germany. Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant that has a characteristic chemical structure with three fused rings. The preparation, which is known as a mood enhancer, is prescribed primarily for psychological complaints in which fears or a bad mood are in the foreground.

Amitriptyline also has a dampening effect on the patient’s psychomotor function. The preparation is therefore also administered for sleep disorders , which are often among the symptoms of depression.

Pharmacological action

Like all tricyclic antidepressants, amitriptyline also affects the metabolism of the brain by inhibiting the reuptake of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine , dopamine and serotonin in the nerve cells .This is intended to compensate for the lack of messenger substances that is characteristic of depressive patients. Because the messenger substances fulfill an important role in brain metabolism insofar as they control all nerve reactions. The messenger substances are usually found in small bubbles at the ends of the neurons, where they are released as soon as the nerve is excited. As a result, the messenger substances reach the receptors of other nerve cells and pass on the stimulus. The messenger substances are then broken down by enzymes or returned to the original store via a special transport system.

Amitriptyline occupies the receptors of the messenger substances, which changes the brain metabolism. In addition, the active ingredient prevents the return transport of the messenger substances. This allows them to stay longer at the site of action, which increases their effectiveness. In this way, states of tension and anxiety can be relieved and depressive moods lifted by amitriptyline .

The condition of chronic pain patients can also be improved. Here, too, the cause is often a disrupted processing of pain signals in the brain, with the messenger substance serotonin playing a key role.

Medical Application & Use

Various preparations with the active ingredient amitriptyline can basically be administered against all forms of depression because of their mood-enhancing effect. They are preferably used in forms of depression that are associated with feelings of restlessness and anxiety.

Because it is often not clear which symptom is the cause and which is the consequence, especially in the case of mental illnesses, amitriptyline is also administered for anxiety disorders. Because these can have a negative effect on mood, which causes symptoms to appear that can also be associated with depression. Because the preparation generally has a calming effect, amitriptyline is also administered for pathological and chronic sleep disorders. Because of the calming effect that the preparation shows in all indications, it should always be taken in the evening.

Another area of ​​application for amitriptyline is chronic pain . Because in many cases these also have a psychological component. The active ingredient covers a relatively wide range of pain , from mild to very severe pain. Typical examples of applications in pain patients are the treatment of headaches in migraine patients or the pain in the musculoskeletal system that fibromyalgia patients suffer from.

Risks & side effects

Patients who are administered the preparation very often complain about side effects such as dry mouth , dizziness , tiredness , disorders in the cardiovascular system , headaches , irritability , speech disorders and weight gain . A feeling of thirst , inner restlessness , taste disorders or lack of concentration are just as common as a loss of libido .Side effects such as high blood pressure, diarrhea or changes in blood counts may occasionally occur. There are also a number of other possible side effects. Therefore, the approximately two-week adjustment to the preparation should take place under medical supervision.

Because if the side effects are too strong, you may have to switch to another preparation. Also, most of the side effects should subside once the hiring phase is complete. Weaning off the drug should also be slow and gradual.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.