What is Elavil Prescribed to Treat?
Elavil, known more commonly now as amitriptyline, is FDA-approved to treat MDD (major depressive disorder). However, there have been a wide array of off-label uses, in a wide cross-section of populations.22 Like all antidepressants, amitriptyline or Elavil is not recommended for the under-25 population due to the increased risk of suicide in that age range. In a review of prescribing antidepressants in primary care, published in the BMJ, it was found that tricyclics (TCAs) were the most often prescribed off-label (81%) of all the antidepressant types 15 And, amitriptyline was the most often prescribed of the TCAs at 91% for off-label uses such as insomnia or pain. Amitriptyline was among the least prescribed for its approved use, which is MDD. It was suggested in the review that the vast number of prescription drugs makes it challenging for doctors to keep track of intended uses for various drugs, both new and older products.
Another possible explanation is that doctors are possibly relying on the zeal of pharmaceutical advertising that may suggest off-label uses for antidepressants in general.16,17
In particular, the drug label on the amitriptyline package states, “Endogenous depression is more likely to be alleviated than are other depressive states.”2 Endogenous depression is a depression where no trauma or stress exists. Despite many drug advertisers proclaiming “chemical imbalance” as the only endogenous cause of depression, research shows that depression might well be from low thyroid 21 or toxic exposure 22 or even vitamin deficiencies and poor food choices.19 Endogenous does not mean feeling depressed or stressed from a suffocating marriage, or a high-pressure job, for instance. But are these terms really understood by the prescribers? How can a physician know that a vitamin deficiency exists or doesn’t exist if they don’t test for it? Are tests done to ensure that various causes of depression such as toxic exposure or poor diet can or cannot be ruled out? In most cases, no they are not done. In fact, for decades now the pharmaceutical industry has pushed the idea broadly and repeatedly that a chemical imbalance is the sole cause of depression, and that these drugs are the only remedy. It was a highly profitable sales pitch, and sadly, continues to be an overarching theme. But that pitch has started to become disabused of any credibility by research and publicly available statistics on treatment outcomes.17,18,19
Alternative to Meds Center knows there are safer alternatives than toxic drugs. Symptoms can be lessened and even entirely eliminated without neurotoxic, suicide-inspiring prescription drugs. The center has helped many thousands of clients who were struggling with how to get off Elavil or other drugs safely and comfortably. The recommended way according to the FDA as well as many other health authorities is to withdraw from Elavil using a slow and gradual approach. A gradual taper and holistic drug-free therapies can considerably ease the Elavil tapering process and shorten the length of time one might otherwise experience during withdrawal.3
Special Health Advisory for Serotonergic Drugs11-14
There are rare instances that call for an immediate and abrupt Elavil (amitriptyline) cessation, requiring a hospital setting to successfully avoid injury or death. Symptoms generally recede in a day after discontinuing the medication. Serotonin syndrome is probably under-reported according to researchers Volpi-Abadie et al as reported in The Ochsner Journal, due to lack of patient education and possible misdiagnosis. Elavil is not as risky as some other serotonergic drugs unless combined with other serotonergic medications, which will increase the likelihood of this reaction. Serotonin toxicity can occur when taking single or multiple serotonergic medications, or, when some antidepressants are switched too quickly, not allowing for potential interaction. This is especially true where a drug has a relatively long half-life. For example, fluoxetine has a one-week half-life, so carries more risk of SS than amitriptyline, which has a half-life of approximately one day. However, one should always remain alert to signs of serotonin syndrome — a potentially fatal condition where too much serotonin builds up in the synapses in the brain. This is especially of concern in all drugs that inhibit serotonin reuptake.
Signs of serotonin syndrome, serotonin overdose, or serotonin toxicity may include:
Altered mental state:
- overexcited state
- stiffness, rigid muscles
- twitching, jerking motions
Autonomic system dysfunction:
- tachycardia (racing heart rate)
- dilated pupils
- fever, burning sensation, hot flashes
- dry mucous membranes
Gradual Elavil Tapering Recommended in All Other Cases
Apart from serotonin syndrome or other life-threatening drug reactions and cross-reactions, abruptly stopping Elavil is not recommended. Abrupt cessation can result in major health problems, as well as prolonged Elavil withdrawal symptoms which can linger for a very long time. Long and difficult withdrawals or protracted withdrawals can be prevented by gradual, gentle, and supported Elavil tapering. The Alternative to Meds Center’s Elavil tapering protocols are carefully designed to avoid severe or protracted withdrawals.
Safe Approach to Withdrawal from Elavil, Nextrip, Endep, et al
Anyone who is considering trying to quit Elavil would be well advised to seek competent help so that a plan can be designed to carefully follow, and most importantly with Elavil tapering being overseen by a trusted and experienced medical practitioner. Properly monitored Elavil tapering could be a life or death matter in some individuals, due to Elavil’s toxicity characteristics and possible negative effects not only on neurochemistry, but on the body’s respiratory system, heart, as in arrhythmias, and many other severe side effects.11-14,20
Elavil is no longer approved for prescribing to children or teens, as the FDA black box stipulates, due to the extremely high suicide risks.2 However, adults also experience suicidal reactions as previously mentioned and as stated in the black box warning. We cannot overstate the importance of seeking an Elavil tapering program that provides 24/7 monitoring and careful oversight so that these concerns can be adequately monitored.
A Drug for All Seasons
Perhaps you were prescribed Elavil for any of a shockingly long list of off-label purposes.15,20,22
Off-label uses include:
- Panic disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Premenstrual issues
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
- Headaches, migraine prevention
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Chronic hiccups
- Body dysmorphic disorders
- Quitting smoking
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Sialorrhea (excessive drooling)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Interstitial cystitis (bladder pain syndrome)
Research tells us that the list goes on and on. However, a prescription of Elavil may not have helped with these conditions. Additionally, taking a toxic drug such as Elavil may have even caused other unwanted symptoms to begin to emerge that you never experienced before taking Elavil. This may have resulted in an overall worsening of health rather than any real or actual improvements to your health and is noted on the FDA label as a possible outcome of taking amitriptyline or Elavil.2
It is not at all uncommon to have been prescribed Elavil unnecessarily. Why does this happen so often? Without a doubt, underlying root causes for undesirable symptoms may have been overlooked before beginning a toxic drug regimen, perhaps in haste or desperation. But that could only mask symptoms, and only temporarily at that.
Unfortunately, with toxic drugs, there can be a whole range of additional health consequences. These may lead to the decision of getting off Elavil. This can be turned to one’s advantage, however, where a person then has the opportunity of exploring other treatment approaches to find relief from their original symptoms. Symptoms can be like guideposts that show the way to the correction of deficiencies, toxic accumulations, or other correctable reasons that health and life have not been free from discomforts. Toxic bioaccumulation can be safely purged from the body and is one of the biggest reasons our programs are so effective. This and other supports are key to neurotransmitter rehabilitation, a fundamental part of healing after antidepressant use.
Find Out More About Alternative to Meds Elavil Tapering Programs
Please contact us at Alternative to Meds Center for much more information about our programs that have helped so many trying to quit Elavil or other toxic prescription drugs. We can explain the various treatments and protocols used to make Elavil cessation a comfortable and transformative, health-restoring experience. You can also visit our services overview pages to find more detailed descriptions of the services offered inpatient to our clients.
We invite you to find out more about how Elavil tapering can be part of a much more broad and comprehensive health program, one that can allow a person to start to be freed of their original symptoms that prescription drugs did not and could not fix.