HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.

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Return to Amitriptyline overview
  1. Use and Action
  2. Warnings and side effects
  3. Sex, drink, weight and everything else
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Be very careful drinking alcohol while taking amitriptyline

  • If you drink alcohol while taking amitriptyline, having the two together might is likely to make you very sleepy.
  • It will make you less alert when doing things that need focus, like driving.
  • If you want to drink alcohol, remember that you might be sleepy and make sure you can get home safely.
  • Do not drive or use machines, even on the day after you had a drink.
  • Do not put yourself or others in danger.

Do not drive a car or ride a bike just after you start taking amitriptyline

  • Taking amitriptyline may make you feel less alert than normal, and give you blurred eyesight, when you start taking it.
  • This could affect you if you drive a car, ride a bike, or do anything else that needs a lot of focus. It might be best to stop doing these things for the first few days, until you know how it affects you.
  • Do not worry - most people drive as normal while taking amitriptyline.

Try not to take amitriptyline for the first time just before your exams.

Amitriptyline can make it hard to concentrate

  • Amitriptyline may affect your concentration, give you blurred eyesight and make you feel dizzy and tired.
  • You should talk to your doctor about any future exams if you are starting amitriptyline.
  • You might decide together to delay starting it until you have done them.
  • If they are more than a month away, however, you might find that it is better to start amitriptyline to improve your sleep and your motivation to study.

Do not worry - most people do exams as normal while taking amitriptyline

Amitriptyline is not a banned substance in sport

  • Amitriptyline is not a banned substance in sport.
  • If amitriptyline affects your concentration, or affects your eyesight or your co-ordination then you may want to wait to see if those effects go away before playing sports that need a lot of focus.
  • Do not worry - most people do sports as normal while taking amitriptyline.

Your weight can be affected by amitriptyline

  • A side-effect of amitriptyline can be weight gain.
  • It is difficult to know how it will affect each person who takes it.
  • Talk to your doctor about this if it worries you.

Amitriptyline may make you feel very sleepy

  • Amitriptyline is used to help people to sleep better.
  • In some people, however, it can cause strange dreams.
  • You have to see how it affects you.
  • Talk to your doctor if this happens for more than the first few nights.

Let your family and friends know you are taking amitriptyline so they can support you and help you look out for side effects

  • The side-effects of amitriptyline might put a strain on your friendships and relationships, especially in the first few days of taking it.
  • You might feel over-excited, or confused
  • You might feel anxious or restless
  • These side-effects should get better after a few days.
  • You be getting the good effects of amitriptyline after 2-3 weeks, and that should improve your relationships in itself.
  • It might actually be a great idea to choose a good friend to tell about your medicine when you start taking it. (Or - even better - to take a friend with you to the doctor before you start taking the drug!)
  • They could look at the medicine leaflet, or at this website.
  • They could help you to understand whether the medicine changes your behaviour, or gives you side-effects (sometimes it is hard for us to see it ourselves).

Amitriptyline can have side-effects that might affect your sex life

The good effects of amitriptyline may have a good effect on your sex life as your mood lifts, your sleep gets better, and you can concentrate on your relationships.

There are some side-effects that include:

  • Breast growth in men and women
  • Milk flow from breasts
  • For men, swollen balls (testicles) or problems getting an erection
  • Not feeling like you want to have sex

These effects should pass after the first couple of weeks. If they do not, and this is a problem for you, go back to the doctor and see what else you could try.

We do not know if amitriptyline can affect fertility.

If you are planning to get pregnant, talk to your doctor.

  • There is no information available about whether amitriptyline can affect fertility but it is unlikely to be a problem.
  • Amitriptyline is not recommended in pregnancy, however.
  • If you are trying to get pregnant, go back to your doctor discuss your choices with them. Tricyclic antidepressants (including amitriptyline) carry very little extra risk of malformations in a baby but there are other choices. A Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) like fluoxetine, sertraline or escitalopram is usually recommended.

Amitriptyline can cause side-effects in newborn babies

Amitriptyline is passed to the baby in breastmilk

  • Amitriptyline should not be taken in the first three months and last three months of pregnancy
  • It may be used, however, if the benefit to you is greater than the risk to the baby
  • If you become pregnant while taking amitriptyline, do not stop the tablets but go back to your doctor for advice, as you need to stay well
  • Some newborn babies whose mothers took amitriptyline can get withdrawal symptoms, like breathing problems and being restless (agitated).
  • Tell your midwife if you are taking amitriptyline, so that they can help if the baby has any symptoms after birth.
  • Amitriptyline is passed to the baby in breastmilk.
  • Talk to your doctor or midwife about the benefits and risks of breastfeeding.

If you start or stop smoking while you are taking amitriptyline, you may have to change your dose

  • Cigarette smoke affects the amount of amitriptyline in your body.
  • If you smoke, you will probably need a higher dose of amitriptyline than someone who does not smoke.
  • Tell your doctor if you smoke, so that you get the right dose for you.
  • If you stop smoking, the body amitriptyline level rises and you might need to reduce your dose of amitriptyline slowly over one week.
  • If you (re)start smoking, you will probably need to increase it again.
  • Go to your doctor for advice if you stop or start smoking.