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Amitriptyline (Triptafen)

Other name: Triptafen

Amitriptyline is an antidepressant drug licensed to treat moderate to severe depression. In multiple sclerosis, amitriptyline is often used in lower doses for the treatment of neuropathic or nerve pain, such as burning sensations, pins and needles or stabbing pains. NICE guidelines on neuropathic pain recommend amitriptyline as a first-line treatment.

How do I take amitriptyline?

Amitriptyline is taken by mouth (orally) as tablets. As it can cause drowsiness, it is often suggested that you take it at night. Amitriptyline normally takes between two to four weeks to take effect.

If you want to stop treatment, speak to your doctor about gradually reducing the dose you are taking.  This reduces the risk of withdrawal symptoms such as headache, nausea, and an overall feeling of discomfort.

What side effects could I get with amitriptyline?

Amitriptyline boosts the sedative effects of alcohol and some other types of drug (eg antihistamines, tranquillisers, prescription pain medications, seizure medications, muscle relaxants, sleeping medications), possibly causing drowsiness. Be sure that your doctor knows what other medications you are taking.

Side effects of amitriptyline can include dry mouth, skin sensitivity, blurred vision, difficulty emptying the bladder and constipation.

As some of the side effects are similar to common symptoms of MS, talk to your doctor if you notice any of these happening while you are taking amitriptyline.

How does amitriptyline work?

Amitriptyline is one of a class of drugs called tricyclic antidepressants. It works by changing the way in which nerves in the central nervous system react to pain.

Last updated: November 2017
Last reviewed: January 2016
This page will be reviewed within three years

More references

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Neuropathic pain - pharmacological management: the pharmacological management of neuropathic pain in adults in non-specialist settings. London: NICE; 2013. Read the full guideline on the NICE website

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