Call Mon-Sun:
1 (800) 301-3753
Alternative to Meds News & Blog Articles

Elavil (Amitriptyline) Withdrawal, Side Effects, Help and Treatment

This entry was posted in Antidepressant on by .

Last Updated on March 2, 2021 by Carol Gillette

Medical Review Icon

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Written by Diane Ridaeus Published Sep 13, 2018
Medically Reviewed by Dr John Motl MD

It is easy to find a doctor to prescribe you medications, but where are the doctors that specialize in Elavil withdrawal and Elavil side effects?

Despite a large body of evidence and patient advocacy groups, doctors still tend to dismiss patients either damaged by Elavil or those haunted with unusual side effects

Do Your Symptoms
Require Elavil?

elavil withdrawal
Alternative to Meds has been an antidepressant withdrawal help expert for over 15 years. We have published evidence regarding our success. Many of us became guides because we had suffered similarly and had to walk a similar path as you. This peer type relationship is evident in our treatment model and in how we nurture people back to health
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Up to 87 ½% Long-Term Success Rate.
Click to Call7 Days a Week

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Elavil Withdrawal

Elavil withdrawal symptoms are generally not life-threatening where the reduction is gradual. These adverse reactions when coming off the drug can nonetheless be very uncomfortable, especially after long-term use or very high dosage. There is more information discussed below on how to get off Elavil and similar drugs safely and comfortably.

If someone is on multiple medications, this can make the withdrawal process somewhat more complex. Always consult a medical practitioner familiar with withdrawal from prescription drugs for the safest guidance.

As is the case for many prescription drugs, Elavil withdrawal symptoms can resemble the side effects, and re-emergence of original symptoms is also not uncommon, though they can significantly intensify during cessation, especially if the Elavil withdrawal is too rapid or sudden.

Elavil withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Anger
  • Crying or other sudden emotional outbursts
  • Depersonalization*
  • Hypersensitivity to lights, sound, and external motion
  • Muscle pains and aches
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • General malaise
  • Unusual dreams
  • Rash, swelling, especially of the face and tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep disturbances, interrupted sleep, unusual dreams
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Joint pain

*Depersonalization is not exclusive to coming off Elavil. Antidepressant withdrawal research published by Rusconi et al. shows the range of drugs that can lead to depersonalization during withdrawal.4

How Long do Elavil Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Elavil withdrawal is commonly reported to last a number of weeks or months until these symptoms eventually begin to fade.

Individual factors can greatly affect the time it takes to recover from withdrawal, such as age, general health, genetic factors, diet, social support or lack thereof, stress from the immediate environment, whether someone is on multiple medications, extant pathology, or other factors. Polydrug detoxification can become too complex to manage in a detox facility that is designed for mono drug detoxification.5

Discontinuing/Quitting Elavil (amitriptyline)

Some people will experience very mild withdrawals, while others may feel so overwhelmed as to make the task near to impossible. It can happen that without proper support and guidance, the person may decide to give up completely and go back on the antidepressant. With proper step by step help, it may be possible for even the most difficult of withdrawals to be gently and correctly guided along to a successful outcome.

Can I stop Taking Elavil Cold Turkey?

It is unsafe to try stopping Elavil cold turkey. Abrupt withdrawal from amitriptyline is hard to distinguish from the signs of acute toxicity.3

Acute toxicity develops rapidly whatever the cause and requires immediate hospitalization to prevent injury or death. Airway compromise, respiratory failure, coma, seizure, convulsions can all present and need intensive care to prevent irreparable damage.

Therefore, coming off tricyclic antidepressant drugs such as Elavil (amitriptyline) should never be done abruptly or too quickly. Always consult a medical caregiver/physician who is familiar with safe Elavil withdrawal treatment before you begin any attempt to come off an antidepressant.

elavil risk of suicidal ideationTwo important facts about this drug are that Elavil withdrawal should never be done abruptly and that Elavil ranks number one of all antidepressant drugs for death due to suicide.

An astounding 2 of every 5 antidepressant-related suicides link to Elavil, according to a 2017 report by Dr. J Craig Nelson (UCal), and Dr. Daniel A. Spyker (Oregon Health & Science University in Portland).1 This had led many to decide it would be best to learn how to get off Elavil and similar drugs safely.

Elavil was one of the very first drugs ever produced in the class of antidepressants called “tricyclics,” first marketed in the 1960s. The word tricyclic comes from the triple ring of atoms that comprise the drug’s structure. The toxicity of this drug has become renowned. Those attempting suicide with it are usually successful, as Elavil’s lethal effects are tragically well documented over the last nearly six decades. Overdoses are tragically frequent as well, due to not only the toxic effects on neurochemistry but on the heart and respiratory systems as well.

Below we have collated important and useful information concerning this neurotoxic substance, but there may be other questions you have about which you should consult with your doctor or caregiver especially if you have not yet begun a prescription.

Below, we will cover Elavil side effects, helpful information regarding Elavil withdrawal treatment, and other information that may be useful in deciding how or when to seek Elavil tapering and withdrawal help. The information below provides help to anyone to acquire some familiarity with how the drug can potentially affect various functions of the body, including the heart, the digestive and urinary tracts, and the brain.

Elavil Withdrawal

At ATMC I was always supported. The staff was great at providing opportunities for me to work towards stability. What helped me here was always keeping a positive outlook and the constant encouragement and reminders to keep faith in myself.



What is Elavil (amitriptyline) Used For?

Elavil is a tricyclic antidepressant that has mainly been used in the treatment of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety and is also prescribed to improve sleep.

Elavil arrived to a relatively eager-eyed consumer base along with a rash of new drugs and new discoveries about the human body, genes, hormones, and much new information that rode in on the post-WWII wave of cultural, economic, political and social change.

Prescription drugs were beginning to establish themselves in mainstream treatment of physiological illnesses, for example, the advent of new vaccines. Food preservatives were being developed that would alter the food industry forever. And, mental health treatment was quickly transforming to a system that relied much more than before on chemical-based remedies rather than psychotherapy-based solutions to mental unease.

The 1950’s decade was a time of discovery and experiment, and drugs like Elavil emerged at the dawn of the 1960s. The drug was tried out on a surprising number of conditions, on all ages, including very young children. However, prescribing Elavil for anyone under the age of 25 is now not recommended due to the serious risk of suicidality, as the FDA black box warning most clearly stipulates.

Here are some of the reasons Elavil (amitriptyline) has been prescribed:


  • SAD (social anxiety disorder, or panic disorder)
  • GAD (generalized anxiety disorder)
  • MDD (major depression disorder)
  • Premenstrual symptoms
  • ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactive disorder)
  • OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
  • Anorexia Nervosa (eating disorder)
  • Bulimia (eating disorder)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • BPD (borderline personality disorder)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Headache
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Quitting smoking
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Bedwetting
  • Narcolepsy
  • Chronic hiccups
  • Insomnia
  • BDD (body dysmorphic disorder)
  • And a host of other conditions.

Elavil (amitriptyline) Alternative Names and Slang

Elavil has not earned any common street names, as it rarely ever made its way into the world of recreational use/abuse despite its euphoric and hallucinogenic effects at high doses. Due to the toxicity of the drug on the brain and the cardiovascular system at such high levels, recreational use would not uncommonly be fatal.

US drug makers no longer use the brand name “Elavil,” having changed it to Endep instead. In the US, the drug is mostly prescribed as a drug of last resort, opting for a tricyclic when other types of antidepressants have not worked.

Other brand names for amitriptyline number in the hundreds. As of 2017, 64 different drug manufacturers produce this drug under many names, such as:

  • Vanatrip
  • Amilite
  • Amitrip
  • Amiwel
  • Eliwel
  • Dot Trip
  • Gentrip
  • Mitrip
  • Nextrip
  • Endep
  • And so on.

Elavil Side Effects

Some of the most common and relatively mild side effects for Elavil (amitriptyline) have been reported as constipation, urinary retention, a feeling of drowsiness, dizziness, or feeling lightheaded, dry mouth, weight gain, and blurred vision.

Note:  To reduce lightheadedness, it may help to remember to get up from a lying or sitting position more slowly than normal.2

However, there are other Elavil side effects that may present and should be monitored carefully should they worsen or become hard to tolerate, as this could signal that medical attention is needed on an immediate basis.

The following adverse Elavil side effects can be serious and should be watched for carefully:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Memory loss
  • Long term use is connected to increased incidence of dementia
  • Increased suicidality, thoughts of suicide, obsessive thoughts of death, hurting oneself, hopelessness, etc.
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Stroke
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Tardive Dyskinesia
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional blunting
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Abnormal involuntary movements
  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Akathisia (internal profound and unrelenting restlessness usually accompanied by rocking, pacing, twisting, marching, etc.)
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Tachycardia
  • Overdose leading to coma, delirium, cardiac arrest
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased body temperature
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation/urinary retention
  • High or low blood sugar levels
  • Testicular swelling in males, and swelling of breast tissue in females

Note:  Amitriptyline has more than 250 major interactions with other medications including common cold and cough remedies, sedatives, histamines, oral contraceptives, and even alcohol. Avoiding all other medications and drugs is essential to your health and safety, whether prescribed or gotten over the counter. Consult with your caregiver before taking any other drug, medicine, or alcohol if you are taking amitriptyline.

Elavil (Amitriptyline) FAQs

Below are several commonly asked questions about Elavil (amitriptyline). If you have other questions please seek additional information and consult a medical practitioner whenever possible.

Is Elavil a Narcotic?

Elavil (amitriptyline) is classed as a tricyclic antidepressant. In a general sense, any drug or even alcohol, and some foods can have a “narcotic” effect, meaning inducing dullness or mental lethargy, having a sleep-inducing or a calming effect. But in the legal sense of how drugs are classified, no, Elavil is not classified as a “narcotic.”

How Long Does Amitriptyline Stay in Your System?

Amitriptyline is metabolized rapidly in the system once ingested. Within 24 hours, roughly one-third to one-half of the drug is excreted. Certain medications can accelerate metabolization, if needed, in a medical setting such as attempting to reverse an overdose.

As a special note for pregnancy, amitriptyline crosses the placenta so it is not recommended for nursing mothers. Insufficient testing over the last 6 decades has left unanswered questions about the safety of taking this drug while pregnant.

What is the Half-Life of Elavil?

The half-life of Elavil is estimated at 20 hours. Half-life can be dependent on unique individual factors, such as genetics, age, nutritional deficiencies, etc. But in approximate terms, working out the half-life of amitriptyline means if you took 100 mg, after 20 hours you would still have half of what was ingested in your system, or, 50 mg.

After another 20 hours, you would have 25 mg left, and so on. Since there are so many factors that can influence the process, these are estimates that can change a bit from person to person.

Are there Elavil Alternatives?

At Alternative to Meds Center many methods of alternative treatments for mental unease are offered, and it is the goal of the center to provide gentle and effective ways to attain natural mental health, using holistic non-drug-based therapies. Choosing a drug-based therapy is not the only option as there are now many cutting edge therapies and protocols that can make Elavil alternatives the better, more beneficial choice.

Treatment for Elavil Addiction or Dependence

Mild treatment for amitriptyline dependence can help alleviate the symptoms that can often accompany coming off an antidepressant. Since genetic factors can inform some of the potential difficulties, these can be specifically tested for prior to Elavil withdrawal help and can be mitigated to a degree through nutrition and supplementation. There are many other safe and gentle methods to make Elavil cessation as smooth and mild as possible.

Elavil addiction or dependence on any drug can be tough to turn around if done too quickly and without the proper care and nutritional support that the body needs to make the adjustment. Patience, compassion, holistic physical therapies, targeted nutrition, and other non-invasive methods can all help in stopping Elavil or other drugs.

If you have questions about the best methods of treatment for Elavil addiction, dependence, and cessation, Alternative to Meds Center can provide much information on request that can help in understanding the process, and the most effective Elavil withdrawal methods that are available to ensure a mild, comfortable taper and to restore mental health naturally, and without the need to rely on prescription drugs.

1. Nelson JC MD, Spyker DA PhD MD “Morbidity and Mortality Associated With Medications Used in the Treatment of Depression: An Analysis of Cases Reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers, 2000–2014” American Journal of Psychiatry, [INTERNET] 2017 Jan 31

2. “Dizzy spells when you stand up: When should you worry?” Harvard Men’s Health Watch, 2015 Feb, updated 2020 Apr 14

3. Davison P, Wardrope J “Acute amitriptyline withdrawal and hyponatraemia. A case report” PubMed, 1993 Jan

4. Rusconi AC, Carlone C, Muscillo M, Coccanari de’ Fornari MA, Podda L, Piccione M. Sindrome da sospensione di SSRI: incidenza e differenze su tre gruppi di pazienti in trattamento con paroxetina [SSRI discontinuation syndrome: incidence and differences on three groups of patients treated with paroxetine]. Riv Psichiatr. 2009 May-Jun;44(3):169-75. Italian. PMID: 20066803.[cited 2020 Dec 7]

5. Dunsaed F, et al., “Standardised detoxification in cases of polydrug use.” N.D. Tidsskriftet published online [cited 2020 Dec 7]

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

Dr. John Motl, M.D.

Dr. Motl is currently certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Psychiatry, and Board eligible in Neurology and licensed in the state of Arizona.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and philosophy. He graduated from Creighton University School of Medicine with a Doctor of Medicine.  Dr. Motl has studied Medical Acupuncture at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine and at U.C.L.A.

Social Profile: LinkedIn

View Bio

Elavil (Amitriptyline) Withdrawal, Side Effects, Help and Treatment
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.

We Accept Most Major Insurance Providers.

Call Now to Verify BlueCross BlueShield Cigna Aetna

Our Success Stories

Medication Withdrawal Success Stories

Can you imagine being free from medications, addictive drugs, and alcohol? This is our goal and we are proving it is possible every day!

Read All StoriesView All Videos