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Amitriptyline Alternatives

Last Updated on October 26, 2021 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Exploring amitriptyline alternatives provides a counter-balance to what appears to be a rampant overuse of medications commonly prescribed for depression and other symptoms.

Antidepressants like amitriptyline may have helped for a short time. However, using safer alternatives to amitriptyline can prevent a lifetime of being medicated.

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Why Seek Amitriptyline Alternatives?

amitriptyline suicide riskSometimes a physician completely misdiagnoses a patient by missing on factors like underlying medical, physical or lifestyle conditions that were not explored. Many unknown factors may have contributed to depression and other symptoms. Compounding the problem, universities do not train physicians how to properly withdraw a patient from antidepressants, should they prove ineffective or problematic because of the side effects. At the same time, schools do not train or encourage physicians to use alternatives to amitriptyline or other drugs. This practice prevents a resolution of symptoms like depression in a healthy way, without drugs. We can help. We seek to discover what these contributing factors were, and resolve them safely in less toxic ways than simply drugging the patient.

The brand name for amitriptyline, Elavil, has been discontinued in the U.S. However, generic versions of the drug are still sold. This drug is probably best known for having ranked at or near the top spot for death by suicide. Nonetheless, the generic drug is now prescribed for pain, or as a “muscle relaxant,” or in a compound drug containing a benzodiazepine such as Limbitrol®.

Originally marketed as a tricyclic antidepressant, generic amitriptyline is still prescribed for depression accompanied by the standard black box warning for suicidality and unusual behavioral changes especially in the under 25 age range. Amitriptyline is also prescribed off-label for anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain, hiccups, bedwetting, eating disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, insomnia, and many other conditions.

The reported side effects include myocardial infarction, stroke, coma, seizures, hallucinations, disorientation, tremors, tardive dyskinesia, hostility, akathisia, headache, dizziness, rash, swollen face and tongue, constipation, sleepiness, weight gain, dry mouth, aggressiveness, impulsivity, agitation, worsened depression, worsened psychosis in schizophrenic patients, increased or decreased blood sugar levels, insomnia, nightmares, alopecia, increased or decreased libido, allergic reactions, panic attacks, hypomania or mixed manic episodes, and numerous others. The FDA cautions that suicidality is especially likely in the first few months of beginning treatment.5-7

Knowing the above facts, how prudent would it be for a doctor to prescribe amitriptyline in any of its versions available today as a first-line of treatment?

What Alternatives to Amitriptyline Are There?

holistic alternatives to amitriptylineEach case presents unique circumstances, a scenario unto itself. Truly, there are many non-drug-based solutions that effectively relieve depression. These holistic solutions don’t create toxic reactions, suicidality, or addiction/dependence. Examples can include checking for deficiencies and correcting them, or correcting diet and other lifestyle factors that could contribute to a depressed state. Here are some examples of alternatives to amitriptyline that deserve consideration, followed by expanded descriptions further below.

  • Lifestyle interventions, music, life coaching, hobbies 2,11,24
  • Talk therapy 10,26
  • Bright light therapy, sunshine 17
  • Neurotoxin testing and cleansing 18
  • Exercise 19
  • Choose real food without chemicals and pesticides 14,15
  • Test for nutritional deficiencies and correct with supplementation 3,13.14,16
  • Test for food allergies, mycotoxins and other allergies 20,27
  • Therapeutic massage 22
  • Foot Reflexology 25
  • Yoga 21
  • Acupuncture 23
  • Support/repair microbiome 12

Lifestyle Interventions — Better Strategies for Effective Amitriptyline Alternatives

natural alternatives to amitriptylineOne can analyze and change personal and social circumstances to create a more positive and balanced life experience. We sometimes overlook impacts from a stressful workplace, marital and familial interactions, and so on. One can, with guidance, sort out and resolve trouble spots.

Social networking can have profound effects on mood. A good ratio of positive social contacts can actually reduce depression. One may have to educate oneself about crafting and caring for relationships, but it is possible to do so.

Have you neglected some past hobbies? Are there new interests that you want to pursue? Gardeners know that “digging in the dirt” is a true source of happiness and satisfaction. It may not be just because the harvest is bountiful or the flowers are beautiful, though the pleasure of creating something lovely is therapeutic all in itself.11 But in addition to that, studies have shown how contact with microbes in healthy soil can generate a brighter mood, a happier outlook. It’s being called a natural antidepressant, but without the side effects! 2

Physical therapies can help bridge the gap when recovering from medication use, including Foot Reflexology, therapeutic massage, craniosacral massage, learned relaxation techniques, chiropractic, yoga, Qi Gong, acupuncture, and other physical therapies that can be applied to markedly reduce mental and physical discomfort and unwanted symptoms such as insomnia.21-23,25

Quality of life is precious. One can carve out a better quality of life, and we provide the guidance to help you do that. Alternative to Meds Center’s Life Coaches and art therapists can assist with positive lifestyle interventions. Counseling is highly ranked as an effective strategy and support while other therapies available at Alternative Meds Center are blended together for a successful approach. Please find more detailed descriptions about the benefits of counseling as well as diet, supplementation, and other helpful strategies further in this article.

Talk Therapy

cognitive behavioral therapyAfter reviewing hundreds of meta-analyses on the efficacy of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) for the treatment of chronic depression and other troubling symptoms, authors Hoffman et al found that talk therapy had comparable efficacy to SSRIs and other antidepressant medications.10 Interestingly, stopping smoking with CBT had even greater success than nicotine replacement therapies.

CBT can be considered a family of therapies, having developed many styles and forms of delivery to accommodate a growing number of individuals seeking non-pharmacological interventions. According to research published in the Journal of Psychology and Medicine, the relief of symptoms after CBT is long-lasting, as opposed to when a drug wears off and any relief quickly fades.26 Alternative to Meds Center offers various genres of talk therapy with our licensed, compassionate therapists. Please call us for more information on options to consider that resonate best with your mental wellness goals.

Toxin Overload and Mental Health

Toxic exposures are often overlooked when assessing and treating psychiatric symptoms, yet these can play havoc with mental health. Here is where the proverbial ounce of prevention should be stressed. Daily exposure to neurotoxic compounds can occur with the use of household cleaners, cosmetic products, heavy metals as in dental amalgam, pesticides, and other endocrine disruptors and all of these should be avoided wherever possible.18

Alternative to Meds Center provides a cleansing regimen based on environmental medicine consisting of sauna and natural supplements that convert fat-soluble toxins to a water-soluble form that can be excreted through the sweat and normal channels. Other cleansing methods include colon hydrotherapy, nebulized glutathione, mineral baths, and other strategies. Lab testing demonstrates the presence of such toxic elements so that these can be purged from the body, gently and safely.

Benefits of Exercise, Fresh Air and Sunshine

benefits of exercise, fresh airHave you ever wondered if doctors prescribe outdoor exercise and exposure to the sun or bright light therapy especially in the darker months of winter? Well, this trend is becoming more and more mainstream according to the research of Penckhofer et al. The authors’ research found that after a prescription of a daily walk, exposure to sunshine, and supplementing with Vitamin D, B vitamins, selenium, and folic acid, all participants had significant positive increases in mood, general well-being, self-esteem, and happiness.16

Alternative to Meds Center’s location, nestled just steps away from Sedona’s majestic red rocks, is highly conducive to outdoor walks and hiking and, of course, plenty of sunshine for replenishing vitamin D. A fascinating study published in the Indian Journal of Psychology and Medicine reported that depressed persons had lower levels of Vitamin D than the controls in the studies, and those with the lowest Vitamin D levels had the most pronounced depressive symptoms.3

Our equine therapy programs provide a highly popular way to enhance the recovery process. A person recovering from deficiencies or desiring to balance natural neurochemistry may benefit greatly from these therapies and some simple adjustments to their daily regimen without the liabilities of drug-based treatments for depression.

How Important is Nutrition as an Alternative Treatment for Depression?

Diet can be tremendously effective to improve hormonal health. Research by Ryan and Seely suggests that food itself might be best considered as a sort of cocktail of hormones, supplying micronutrients that the body uses to perform vast numbers of regulatory and other functions for good health. Since hormones and mood are intimately connected, it would be wise to test for hormone irregularities, such as low thyroid or adrenals, and choose foods that provide the necessary raw materials for optimized hormone function. Low functioning thyroid and adrenal glands can contribute to low mood, and thus better food choices can be life-changing in no small part because of the direct impact of hormones on mood.8,9

Food allergies as well as mycotoxins from molds and other types of allergies also can disrupt mental wellness, and are often overlooked. These can be tested for and the diet and environment can be modified to avoid exposure to these elements.20,27

Supplementation Plays a Key Role

supplements play key roleSupplementation plays an important role in mental wellness. Support for the digestive microbiome is essential, as is reported in the 2017 Journal of Clinical Practice, in the treatment and prevention of depression and anxiety. A healthy gut is linked to a healthy CNS which is needed so that neurotransmitters and hormones are operating at top form.12

Certain supplements have been shown to be helpful in treating depression and other symptoms, for example, Omega-3 fatty acids, St. John’s Wort, passionflower, and many others with proven efficacy according to scientific research and clinical trials.13-15

We tailor nutrition therapy to each individual’s actual needs. As a result, we give our clients proven foundations for success. We offer holistic, proven orthomolecular nutrition-based protocols for depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other symptoms that can be treated with safe and effective alternatives to amitriptyline and other drugs.

Find Out More About the Amitriptyline Alternatives Offered at Alternative to Meds Center

holistic therapies to restore mental healthAt Alternative to Meds Center, our amitriptyline alternatives programs are built around therapies that can restore natural mental health safely. We give our clients corrective nutrition, drug-free pain management, stress reduction, equine therapy, neurotoxin removal, trainer-led exercise, classes on stress reduction techniques, and many other types of therapeutic care.

Thankfully, the protocols used during ATMC treatment programs provide relief to clients using alternatives to amitriptyline or other drugs. Our programs are based on neurotransmitter rehabilitation to restore natural mental health while a person recovers. In many ways, it could be said that drugs, incorrect diet, a toxic environment, and poor lifestyle choices can rob the very elements needed to support robust health. Please contact us directly to find out more about how we can ease your or your loved one’s road to recovery. Find out more about transitioning to a drug-free life using amitriptyline alternatives.


1. Sathyanarayana Rao T S, Ramesh B N, Jagannatha Rao, Understanding nutrition, depression, and mental illness. NIMH, Indian J Psychiatry 2008 Apr-Jun [INTERNET] [cited 2021 Oct 26]

2. RealPharmacy.com “Antidepressant Microbes in Soil: How Soil Makes Your Brain Happy.” [Internet] N.D. [cited 2021 Oct 26]

3. Menon V, Kar SK, Suthar N, Nebhinani N. Vitamin D and Depression: A Critical Appraisal of the Evidence and Future Directions. Indian J Psychol Med. 2020;42(1):11-21. Published 2020 Jan 6. doi:10.4103/IJPSYM.IJPSYM_160_19 [cited 2021 Oct 26]

4. Thour A, Marwaha R. Amitriptyline. [Updated 2021 Jul 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537225/ [cited 2021 Oct 26]

5. Prescribers Digital Reference Amitriptyline [ND] [online] [cited 2021 Oct 26]

6. FDA label Libitrol® – Amitriptyline with Chlordizepoxide [revised May 2006] [cited 2021 Oct 26]

7. FDA label Amitriptyline Hydrochloride tablets [ND] [online] https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2014/085966s095,085969s084,085968s096,085971s075,085967s076,085970s072lbl.pdf [cited 2021 Oct 26]

8. Marks V. How our food affects our hormones. Clin Biochem. 1985 Jun;18(3):149-53. doi: 10.1016/s0009-9120(85)80099-0. PMID: 3888442. [cited 2021 Oct 26]

9. Ryan KK, Seeley RJ. Physiology. Food as a hormoneScience. 2013;339(6122):918-919. doi:10.1126/science.1234062 [cited 2021 Oct 26]

10. Hofmann SG, Asnaani A, Vonk IJ, Sawyer AT, Fang A. The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-analysesCognit Ther Res. 2012;36(5):427-440. doi:10.1007/s10608-012-9476-1 [cited 2021 Oct 26]

11. Jensen A, Bonde LO. The use of arts interventions for mental health and wellbeing in health settings. Perspect Public Health. 2018 Jul;138(4):209-214. doi: 10.1177/1757913918772602. Epub 2018 Apr 30. Erratum in: Perspect Public Health. 2018 Sep;138(5):288. PMID: 29708025. [cited 2021 Oct 26]

12. Clapp M, Aurora N, Herrera L, Bhatia M, Wilen E, Wakefield S. Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axisClin Pract. 2017;7(4):987. Published 2017 Sep 15. doi:10.4081/cp.2017.987 [cited 2021 Oct 26]

13. Young G, Conquer J., Omega-3 fatty acids and neuropsychiatric disorders Reprod. Nutr.Dev. Volume 45, Number 1 [Jan-Feb 2005] [cited 2021 Oct 26]

14. Update and Critique of Natural Remedies as Antidepressant Treatments Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 Dec 1. Published in final edited form as: Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2009 Dec; 36(4): 789–807. David Mischoulon, MD, PhD [cited 2021 Oct 26]

15. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses Indian J Psychiatry. 2008 Apr-Jun; 50(2): 77–82. T. S. Sathyanarayana Rao, M. R. Asha, B. N. Ramesh, and K. S. Jagannatha Rao [cited 2021 Oct 26]

16. Penckofer S, Kouba J, Byrn M, Estwing Ferrans C. Vitamin D and depression: where is all the sunshine?Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2010;31(6):385-393. doi:10.3109/01612840903437657 [cited 2021 Oct 26]

17. Campbell PD, Miller AM, Woesner ME. Bright Light Therapy: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Beyond. Einstein J Biol Med. 2017;32:E13-E25. [cited 2021 Oct 26]

18. Genuis SJ. Toxic causes of mental illness are overlooked. Neurotoxicology. 2008 Nov;29(6):1147-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2008.06.005. Epub 2008 Jun 24. PMID: 18621076. [cited 2021 Oct 26]

19. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2004; 6(3): 104–111. The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed Lynette L. Craft, Ph.D. and Frank M. Perna, Ed.D., Ph.D [cited 2021 Oct 26

20. Hidese S, Nogawa S, Saito K, Kunugi H. Food allergy is associated with depression and psychological distress: A web-based study in 11,876 Japanese. J Affect Disord. 2019 Feb 15;245:213-218. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.10.119. Epub 2018 Oct 26. PMID: 30408639. [cited 2021 Oct 26]

21. The Efficacy of Yoga as a Form of Treatment for Depression J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Oct; 22(4): 1017–1028.Published online 2017 Jun 30. Ledetra Bridges, LMSW and Manoj Sharma, MBBS, MCHES, PhD [cited 2021 Oct 26]

22. Treatment effects of massage therapy in depressed people: a meta-analysis J Clin Psychiatry 2010 Jul;71(7):894-901. Epub 2010 Mar 23. Wen-Hsuan Hou, Pai-Tsung Chiang, Tun-Yen Hsu, Su-Ying Chiu, Yung-Chieh Yen [cited 2021 Oct 26]

23. Sniezek, D. P., & Siddiqui, I. J. (2013). Acupuncture for Treating Anxiety and Depression in Women: A Clinical Systematic Review. Medical acupuncture25(3), 164–172. https://doi.org/10.1089/acu.2012.0900. [cited 2021 Oct 26]

24. Leubner D, Hinterberger T. Reviewing the Effectiveness of Music Interventions in Treating DepressionFront Psychol. 2017;8:1109. Published 2017 Jul 7. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01109 [cited 2021 Oct 26]

25. Bahrami T, Rejeh N, Heravi-Karimooi M, Tadrisi SD, Vaismoradi M. The Effect of Foot Reflexology on Hospital Anxiety and Depression in Female Older Adults: a Randomized Controlled Trial. Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2019;12(3):16-21. Published 2019 Aug 30 [cited 2021 Oct 26]

26. López-López JA, Davies SR, Caldwell DM, et al. The process and delivery of CBT for depression in adults: a systematic review and network meta-analysisPsychol Med. 2019;49(12):1937-1947. doi:10.1017/S003329171900120X [cited 2021 Oct 26]

27. Empting LD. Neurologic and neuropsychiatric syndrome features of mold and mycotoxin exposure. Toxicol Ind Health. 2009 Oct-Nov;25(9-10):577-81. doi: 10.1177/0748233709348393. PMID: 19854819. [cited 2021 Oct 26]


Originally Published Mar 7, 2020 by Diane Ridaeus


This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Amitriptyline Alternatives
Medical Disclaimer:
Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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