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Amitriptyline (Elavil) Withdrawal Symptoms + How Long Do They Last?

Amitriptyline (Elavil) is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) that has been used to treat major depression since its approval in 1961. It is regarded as one of the most popular tricyclic antidepressants of all time and has been regarded by the World Health Organization as an “essential medicine” or a drug needed in a basic health system. Although it is only approved by the FDA to treat depression, it is sometimes used off-label as a treatment for migraines, neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, and nocturnal bedwetting (in childhood).

The drug works by inhibiting reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. It tends to increase serotonin significantly, while affecting norepinephrine to a moderate extent.  These days, Amitriptyline is not commonly used as a first-line treatment for depression, but throughout the 1960s and 1970s, it was considered one of the best options. Some documentation even suggests that its efficacy may be superior to other antidepressants, including SSRIs.

Although this is an older drug can work well to treat depression, not everyone is going to have a positive reaction to taking it. For some individuals the side effects may be overwhelming and intolerable. For others, it may not be effective in reducing their depressive symptoms. Finally there are those who have had success taking the drug, but found that its antidepressant effects wore off over time.  There are also people who just want to stop taking an antidepressant and function drug-free again.  If you are considering going through withdrawal, below are some important things to keep in mind.

Factors that influence Amitriptyline withdrawal

Whenever you quit taking a medication, there are factors that will influence the severity of your withdrawal. These factors include things like: time span over which you took the drug, your dosage, how quickly you tapered, as well as other individual factors such as physiology, habits, and environment.

1. Time Span

How long were you taking Amitriptyline? If you were taking it for a short duration, chances are that your body and brain didn’t develop a tolerance or become reliant on the drug for functioning. Thus, those who took it for a short period of time (i.e. weeks or a couple months) should have an easier time coping with the withdrawal period. People who were on the drug for an extended period of time (i.e. years) will likely have a much tougher time with the withdrawal.

2. Dosage (50 mg, 75 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg)

Most people end up taking anywhere from 50 mg to 150 mg of the drug at bedtime. However, in more extreme cases, the dosage of 150 mg may be exceeded. The maximum recommended dose of this drug to be taken daily is 300 mg. In general, there is thought to be a relationship between dose of the drug you take and the severity of your withdrawal. Individuals who are on a lower dose such as 50 mg are thought to have an easier time coping with symptoms compared to those who were on the daily maximum of 300 mg.

3. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering

Did you quit taking Amitriptyline cold turkey (abruptly) or did you conduct a gradual taper? If you quit cold turkey, it essentially shocks your central nervous system because it will still have been expecting to receive the drug. In order to reduce withdrawal symptoms, the best method is to conduct a gradual taper based on how you feel to reductions in dosage.

To be on the safe side, experts recommend tapering by 10% of your current dose per month. If you feel this is too slow and/or you don’t notice any extreme withdrawals, you can tweak the percentage to suit your needs. Understand that if you are taking a sustained-release version of the Amitriptyline, you may want to talk to your doctor about counting the little “beads” or converting to the non-sustained release version while tapering.

4. Individual Factors

There are always other individual factors that can influence the difficulty of your withdrawal. Individual physiology tends to play a big role in determining how someone will react to withdrawal. Certain people may not experience many withdrawal symptoms, while others will experience every unwanted symptom imaginable.

It should also be noted that personal habits such as: diet, exercise, social life, productivity, etc. can also play a role in influencing how a person is able to cope with their withdrawal. Additionally if you are on any other medications, it may make the withdrawal process easier.

Amitriptyline Withdrawal Symptoms: List of Possibilities

Below is a list of possible symptoms that you may experience when withdrawing from Amitriptyline. Understand that you may not exhibit every symptom listed below during your withdrawal. This is just a collection of symptoms that people have reported, with the two most common being dizziness and headaches.

  • Anger: During withdrawal it is common to experience increased anger. You may get angry at other people or angry with your circumstances. This is usually caused by neurotransmitter levels being abnormally low. As they increase, your anger should continue improving. Do your best to contain your anger and learn productive ways to cope with it.
  • Anxiety: When withdrawing from this medication, you may notice that you feel more anxious than usual. This is due to the fact that your serotonin levels dropped after you stopped taking the medication. Low serotonin is thought to contribute to significant anxiety during the withdrawal period. Your serotonin levels and neurotransmission will eventually return to how they were prior to your usage of the drug.
  • Appetite changes: Some people who take this drug report increases in appetite. If you experienced an increased appetite while on this antidepressant, your appetite may be reduced when you quit taking the medication, and vice versa. Appetite changes can lead to weight loss or weight gain when you stop taking the drug.
  • Body aches: In some cases this drug can actually help to reduce body aches. When you stop taking it, you may feel achy all over for no apparent reason. Keep in mind that it may take a few weeks before the aches start to subside. In the meantime, consider getting a massage if this symptom becomes difficult to deal with.
  • Crying spells: It is common to cry a lot when you withdraw from an antidepressant. Crying is considered a natural release of emotion and can actually promote healing. Most people that end up crying during withdrawal do so as a result of the increased depression that they initially experience.
  • Depersonalization: Do you feel like you aren’t the same person that you were prior to taking the drug? It is common to feel depersonalized or as if our normal emotions and personality has been sucked out of our body. Understand that as you experience healing, your natural emotions and personality features will return.
  • Depression: When you quit this drug, you may notice that your initial depression returns. For some individuals, they may notice that not only does the depression return, it actually increases in severity. Depression may increase in severity because your neurotransmitters are likely abnormally low and your brain has become vulnerable and sensitive. As you heal, your depression should either subside or return to how it was pre-Amitriptyline.
  • Diarrhea: There have been reports of diarrhea upon discontinuation of this drug. If you have diarrhea, you may want to consider picking up some over-the-counter Imodium to help with your situation. Typically diarrhea should not last more than a week following your last dose.
  • Dizziness: Feeling dizzy is perhaps the most common complaint people have when they stop taking Amitriptyline. You may feel lightheaded, as though you have balance issues, and uncoordinated as a result of the dizziness. It can be overwhelming, especially in cases of people who quit the drug cold turkey. Even though it may seem never-ending, just know that it will eventually get better.
  • Fatigue: Another very common symptom is that of lethargy or fatigue. You may feel tired all the time and lack energy to complete even basic tasks. Keep pushing yourself through these feelings of tiredness, but honor them in times when you think a little extra sleep would be beneficial. It can be difficult to deal with this symptom, but your energy levels will eventually rebound.
  • Flu-like symptoms: In some cases, people get really sick when they stop taking this medication. You may experience nausea, headache, fatigue, aches, and dizziness – leading to a set of symptoms that mimic influenza. If you gradually taper off of the medication, you will reduce your chances of feeling “sick” during the withdrawal.
  • Headaches: Some people take this drug specifically to treat their migraine headaches. If you were taking it to treat headaches, you may notice that they reemerge when you stop taking the drug. In order to reduce your chances of dealing with bad headaches, it is recommended to always gradually taper.
  • Hypersensitivity: During withdrawal you may notice that bright lights and/or loud sounds become very bothersome. Your visual and auditory processing may become hypertensive and moderately loud noises may sound extremely loud. As your nervous system heals and the parasympathetic functioning is restored, hypersensitivity should be reduced.
  • Insomnia: Some individuals take this drug for insomnia and/or notice that it helps them fall asleep at night. When withdrawing, you may notice profound insomnia to the point that you cannot get a good night’s sleep. Understand that insomnia may be temporarily worsened during withdrawal and that you can cope with it by learning ways to lower your arousal.
  • Irritability: You may become increasingly irritable during the early weeks of withdrawal. You may feel like lashing out at other people and as though you have taken on a mean persona. This is usually a result of neurochemical changes that you are dealing with during withdrawal. If you feel irritable, you may want to practice some sort of relaxation technique and/or exercise.
  • Itching: Feeling itchy is a very common side effect of this particular drug, but a less common withdrawal symptom. If you feel itchy, it could because you are in early stages of withdrawal and still have the drug in your system. Realize that once you stop the drug, the itching should subside within a week.
  • Joint pain: In addition to feeling body aches, you may notice some joint pain. This could be a result of norepinephrine changes – a neurotransmitter linked to pain processing. Realize that the pain you are experiencing may be temporarily more severe during the early stages of withdrawal.
  • Memory problems: Some people report issues with memory retrieval and feel as if their short and/or long term memory has worsened. If you are having difficulties with your memory, just know that this drug is not associated with any long term memory damage. In other words, as your brain heals itself, your memory should return to normal functioning.
  • Muscle pain: This drug is sometimes prescribed off-label to treat people with various types of pain. It can reduce muscle pain while a person takes it, but when they come off of it, the pain may be even worse. This is due to the fact that norepinephrine levels drop when a person quits the medication. It can take awhile for them to stabilize and the increased pain sensitivity to subside.
  • Nausea: You may feel nauseated if you quit this drug cold turkey. Nausea occurs because your body has gotten used to receiving the drug on a daily basis and was incorporated in its functioning. When you stop taking the drug, nausea is a common response from the body.
  • Panic attacks: Since this medication affects serotonin levels, when you stop taking it, your serotonin levels can drop. This can result in increased levels of anxiety, which in turn can cause a person to experience panic attacks. Panic attacks experienced during withdrawal will subside once our serotonin levels are restored and when we learn to relax.
  • Poor concentration: Many individuals report that withdrawal from Amitriptyline takes a toll on their ability to focus. Completing work-related tasks, schoolwork, and/or taking tests may become extra difficult. Additionally doing something simple like reading a newspaper may seem tough. Understand that you may temporarily experience poor concentration, but your brain will eventually restore its natural ability to focus.
  • Restlessness: Some people report feeling restless when they initially stop taking this drug. They are unable to sit still and are fueled by inner agitation and anxiety. If you feel restless, you may want to engage in some sort of relaxation exercise to calm your nerves and/or get some exercise to burn off energy.
  • Sleep changes: During withdrawal, your sleep cycle can easily get thrown out of balance. You may find it difficult to fall asleep at night and/or difficult to stay asleep at night. You may have weird dreams, nightmares, and feel tired all the time. Many people report feeling unable to fall asleep at night, and extremely lethargic during the day. Understand that as your brain recovers, your sleep cycle should eventually normalize.
  • Suicidal thoughts: During withdrawal it is relatively common to feel suicidal and increasingly depressed. If these thoughts become overwhelming, be sure to seek immediate medical attention. Understand that the potency of suicidal thoughts tends to increase during withdrawal because your serotonin levels are low and neurotransmission tends to be chaotic. The longer you have been off of the drug, the less these thoughts should occur.
  • Sweating: Many individuals note that they sweat profusely when coming off of this antidepressant. Increased sweating is common when a person quits taking a drug that their body has become accustomed to receiving. When the drug supply is cut, sweating is a physical reaction that many people have. Sweating may occur throughout the day and/or at night.
  • Vomiting: Although vomiting is an extreme withdrawal symptom, it is one that is sometimes reported. Usually those who report vomiting were on a high dose, quit cold turkey, and ended up feeling very sick with high nausea. Just know that vomiting should not last more than a few days.
  • Weight changes: Some people gain a fair amount of weight while taking Amitriptyline. In the event that your weight gain was caused by the drug, you should lose the weight that you gained while taking it. Additionally if you lost weight while taking this drug, you may gain some weight back that you lost while taking it.

Note: It is understood that amitriptyline stays in your system (along with its metabolites) for a period of 4 to 21 days after discontinuation; suggestive of high interindividual variability.  Some users will eliminate the drug quicker (in around 4 days) than others (nearly 21 days).  As a result of variability in elimination speed, severe withdrawal symptoms may emerge sooner or later depending on how long your body retains amitriptyline (and its metabolites) in your plasma.

How long do Amitriptyline withdrawal symptoms last?

There’s no telling exactly how long Amitriptyline withdrawal will last. For some people who were on a low dose for a short-duration, it may only take a few weeks before they feel 100% back to normal. For others that were on the drug for an extended period of time at a high dose and/or those who quit cold turkey may end up dealing with withdrawal symptoms for months following their last dose. It is important to avoid getting caught up in comparing how quickly you recover to how quickly someone else recovers – everyone is different.

In order to speed up your recovery, it is recommended to engage in healthy activities such as: getting adequate exercise, eating a healthy diet, getting proper sleep, forcing yourself to socialize and stay productive, and seeking the help of a professional if you need it. The less stress you have to deal with in your environment and the more you push yourself to engage in healthy activities, you will increase the speed of your recovery. Although withdrawal symptoms may be overwhelming at times, continue pushing through them and realize that in time they will get better.

Withdrawing from an antidepressant can be a frustrating experience, especially if you didn’t know what to expect. Do your best to talk to other people about how you feel and consider seeking the help of a therapist if you lack social support. If you have gone through Amitriptyline withdrawal, feel free to share your experience in the comments section below. You may really help someone else who is going through the same thing.

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{ 425 comments… add one }
  • Rob February 12, 2018, 11:53 am

    I was on 100 g amitriptyline for about a year for chronic tension headaches. All it did was help me sleep at night and made me feel in a fog each morning to the point I stopped going to the gym and would just swim at home. I still had the headaches.

    I cut it to 50 g for 3 months and then stopped cold turkey a few days ago. I’ve started to take 1 mg alprazolam XR before bed and I’ve slept about 6 hours a night. The same amount of time as when I was on the amitriptyline.

    I now feel great in the morning. No fog. Some diarrhea. Nothing worse then having a tension headache and be in a fog. I will slowly taper of the alprazolam in the next week. My headaches even feel better. I’m beginning the think the amitriptyline was actually contributing to them.

  • Cynthia Robinson January 27, 2018, 3:12 am

    I was on 40mgs of amitriptyline for 6 years! I went off of it cold turkey on December 6,2017. It’s is now January 2018. It has been the worst experience I’ve ever had! I’m still sick as hell! Headaches every day. Nausea (mostly in the mornings) loss of appetite (love that actually) panic attacks and anxiety everyday!

    Especially when I go to bed at night! Crying. Moody. Hypersensitive to noises. Depression is really bad! All over body aches. The list goes on! I just can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel! And my doctor never explained the side effects with me. He actually wouldn’t give me seven pills to do me until my next visit with him. Therefore, that is where it all began. Never again will I put my trust in a doctor! Never!

  • Tina January 26, 2018, 9:22 pm

    I was put the drug for migraine headaches. A few days after taking the drug I started feel depressed and irritable but I dismissed it off because I knew I starting my period. Two more days go by and depression and irritability was so intensified beyond any depression and irritability I ever felt. I started experiencing panic attacks with nausea.

    I know then it was the drug. I called my doctor and he said to stop taking the drug. He said I had not been on it long (10 days)and should be fine to go cold turkey. Worst mistake ever! The panic attacks intensified, I felt depressed and as if wanted to cry the past three days.

    I’m on day 4, still having panic attacks but not as intense as the past 3 days. The pharmacist said it could take 5-15 days before it gets out of my system. I was given an anti anxiety medication which is helping with the panic attacks but not 100%. Resting really helps minimize the discomfort.

  • Graham January 11, 2018, 6:00 pm

    Hi guys, I’ve been dealing with facial tingling along the left brow line and when occurring this has a whole load of other symptoms including fatigue, left hand side headache, fluey symptoms to name a few. The facial neuralgia/paresthesia is always the persistent symptom and this has now spread across the forehead and cheeks.

    I do get some symptom free days but it seems to be progressively getting worse. Ive tried literally everything over the past 5yrs and was prescribed amitriptyline by my neurologist. I took 10mg for 6wks and although had some relief in the first few weeks I started feeling even worse after week 4. I decided after week 6 to just stop cold turkey with 10mg being such a small dose.

    I felt good for around 4days and started to dip with quite bad insomnia. On my drs recommendation I was told to restart amitriptyline and increase the dose after a week. Within 4days of restarting and prior to even getting to increasing the dose I would find I was literally bulldozed by illness, fatigue, spaced out, grogginess, constant need for a wee, anxiety each day after resuming.

    Almost at the same time too being 10am-2pm. It honestly felt that my body was now reacting badly even though it was previously tolerated ok. I’ve stopped again and instantly felt better the day after. It’s now day 2 after stopping and I pretty ropey and up and down through the day.

    Not as bad as I felt when I restarted, but still pretty crappy. Hopefully being the time I was amitriptyline I should return to normal soon. I’ll live with my “condition” as this medication is awful. Anyone have any experience with how long withdrawal lasts for such short term use or tips.

  • Tess December 31, 2017, 6:10 am

    Thank you to all these posters. I thought I was going crazy. I started taking this for back pain and have been on 150-200mg per day for more than a year. I tapered off too quickly. I’m in so much pain, I’m exhausted and I keep crying!

    I also have chest pain which is new and eye problems. I thought I was going nuts! Not sure what to do now. I definitely don’t want to start again but I can’t function.

  • Susan December 9, 2017, 4:25 pm

    I’m 61 and have been taking 40 mg of Elavil at night for 2-3 years for Interstitial Cystitis (IC). IC caused me life altering, unbearable pain. Elavil helped tremendously. I also took a probiotic and multivitamin, although sporadically. In the last year I started having muscle pains in my legs, a fibromyalgia-like pain.

    Someone suggested I take Magnesium supplements. I did and the pain went away. Then recently I went on a 3-week trip and stopped taking the magnesium, vitamins, and probiotic. The leg pain returned as well as RSD symptoms in my left foot (caused initially by a bad sprain 16 years ago, for which I was also prescribed Elavil, it worked and I was able to discontinue it in a year – I don’t recall the amount I took or withdrawal symptoms then.)

    I went back on the vitamin, magnesium, probiotic regimen when I got home and the RSD/leg pain went away. I had also recently developed ringing in the ears and I wondered whether it was caused by the Elavil. Then it occurred to me after I got home that other nutrition problems may be causing the IC as well.

    I started taking Omega 3 and Biotin one week ago in addition to the multivitamin, magnesium and probiotic AND started weaning off Elavil by reducing from 40 to 30 mg 3 days ago. I don’t have leg pain and the IC symptoms, but yesterday I had an instance of explosive anger and today I have a bad headache and I’m dizzy. I also have some tingling in my left foot. I still have the ringing in my ears today.

    I’m going to decrease Elavil by 10 mg every month. I’m determined to get off Elavil. Also, I gained 20 pounds on Elavil and one of my 1st symptoms when I decreased the dosage was a loss of appetite. The supplements I’m taking are all NatureMade: Multi For Her 50+, 400 mg Magnesium, Omega-3 Xtra Absorb Blend, 2500 mg Biotin, and in addition Culturelle Probiotic. Thanks to all of you for your comments, you have been very helpful.

  • Bea Faroni March 28, 2017, 11:40 pm

    OMG OMG OMG! HELP ME! Ok, had to get that out! Was put on a super low dose of it for IBS-D. It didn’t help with that. I was on it for a bit over a month and made my own choice to stop it cold turkey. It’s a little complicated so I’ll try and condense as best I can. It’s been 8 days. Here’s the kicker… I was on effexor regular (not extended release) for two years for depression and anxiety.

    It was a fairly high dose split up during a 24 hr span. The effexor wasn’t doing anything for me and I make the choice to discontinue. A pretty fast taper, about six weeks. As I was tapering off the effexor, I’d started the elavil for the gut issues. Off a high dose of one thing, and onto the low dose of another. I know all about discontinuation syndrome. I had discombobulation excitation aggravation (I could go on) syndrome.

    Hysterical laughter at times during the day AND some crying. The physical pain is excruciating. It feels like I’m being drawn and quartered. I’m on a medieval limb stretching machine. It’s been weeks of pain and weirdness and also like I’m alive again. Like Frankenstein coming together in pieces. HA! Oh yeah and I developed breathing problems on that itty bitty dose too. Itching. Tired.

    HOWEVER, I want say to anyone on this medication for depression or whatever, if it’s working for you please don’t stop taking it! EVERY BODY is different and people feel different effects. Bless us all and stay positive!

  • Becky March 26, 2017, 8:21 pm

    I have been on this drug for around 2 months and have recently come off of it and am experiencing terrible side effects – almost all listed above. I was prescribed 10mg of amitriptyline at bedtime for functional dyspepsia as the drug is supposed to help with nerve pain. The first week was awful but assumed it was my body getting used to the drug.

    After awhile I started to feel good on the dosage and at the follow up with my GI doctor he upped it to 25mg. The first day I felt alright then as the week went on I felt more depressed emotional and anxious. After calling the on-call doctor he said to go back down to the 10mg. The first day back on the 10mg was okay but the next day I woke up with severe anxiety, the next morning was worse and had a severe anxiety attack, landing me in the ER with a heart rate of 190bpm~.

    That night, instead of the 10mg, I took a half dose of 5mg and had a very hard time not sleeping and am still suffering from severe anxiety. The next day my PC said to stop taking the drug and put me on valium to help with the anxiety and high heart rate. It’s been 4 days and it is not very easy. I cry a lot, still get anxiety, and have a lot of aches and pains.

    Keeping myself distracted helps a lot, but sometimes the anxiety becomes too much and I need to be alone and focus on breathing to avoid another anxiety attack. Has anyone else had severe side effects and problems with withdrawals from such a low dose? I feel like I knew nothing about this drug or what could happen trying to come down on doses or coming off of it.

  • Veronica March 13, 2017, 10:03 am

    I previously posted on August 6, 2016 and said I’d report back after I’d been off this drug a month or two. It’s been about 7 weeks. I weaned off slowly over about 6 months. I was on a low dose to begin with 25mg for 18 months I think. I cut down to 20/15/10/5/2.5 every 4-6 weeks and then a few random 2.5 doses when I really couldn’t sleep.

    I did not experience all the horrific symptoms that many of you have (my sympathies), but it wasn’t easy by any means. About a week or two after each dosage cut I definitely noticed: Waves of dizziness/severe headaches/sleeplessness. A couple of times, I had trouble doing mental tasks at work. Sometimes, I just had to take a pill so I could sleep. Towards the end I took antihistamines instead, and that did the trick. The headaches were really deep and penetrating.

    Now I sleep well again without assistance (a one-month break overseas definitely helped me). I went for walks to chill out. I have also been seeing a psychologist, though I know that’s not an option for everyone. I do not think I will take this drug in the future. However, at the time I was desperate, depressed and sleepless and it did serve as a short-term solution.

    I am not depressed at the moment and if depression returns, I will seek out other methods to deal with it. As with many of you, I also experienced weight gain and have lost a little since I stopped taking it. My jeans fit better. So for those on a low dose, it is bearable to stop taking it. Just do it over 6 months to a year to avoid shocking your system.

    For those on a higher/long-term dose, I wish you well with your symptoms and hope that you can get off it, even if it takes years. Just be really conservative with the reductions.

  • Sunny March 10, 2017, 7:46 pm

    I have been off this medicine for 8+ months and I’m still not 100%, but I’m more like myself. It takes a very long time for your body to rediscover it’s natural rhythms and reactions… remember, this medicine over-rode normal functions… it was a trade-off, but not worth it, for me.

    I still can’t sleep without a .25 mg. xanax. The extra weight did come off, but I still crave sugar… not sure the medicine is responsible for that, though. Good luck.

  • Linda March 9, 2017, 7:27 pm

    I’m glad I found this website site but am frightened by how long it it taking everyone to get off amitriptyline. Is there anyone out there who has been off of it, gone through withdrawals and can actually tell me how long it takes? I was on 125mg for 8 years it started making me wake up in more of a panicked state and was having more attacks during the day.

    Ended up in mental ward and went off cold turkey. No sleep at all – maybe 30-40 min a night. Have experienced diarrhea, feeling edgy, headaches, body aches, nervousness, not eating. Can anyone give a timeline on this?

  • Hannah March 6, 2017, 3:23 am

    I took amitriptyline (originally 25 mg) for 4 years, and the reason I was prescribed it was unclear, b/c I was in a hospital when they started feeding me this med. I have MS, and was hospitalized 4 years ago b/c of a relapse. I had no sleeping problems.

    (My MS is doing OK, I don’t have any symptoms from it.) I gradually lowered the dose from 25 mg to 10 mg and finally to 5 mg, and then came off it completely. I came off it completely (from 5 mg to 0 mg) for about two months ago.

    Ever since stopping it completely I’ve been suffering from a bad insomnia; I only sleep for 3-5 hours per night, and always in two parts. First I fall asleep without any difficulty, then I wake up suddenly after only about an hour of sleeping. Then I fall asleep again, and then wake up after 2.5-3.5 hours of sleeping. I have short dreams during those hours.

    3-5 hours of sleep per night isn’t enough for me, and I have problems functioning the next day. So now it’s been two months and I’m still having this withdrawal symptom, and I was on a low dose! And I didn’t even have sleeping problems to begin with!

    This drug is dangerous to some people. My advice is: don’t ever start it if you have choice. I wonder does my normal sleep ever return?

    A quick follow up… I went to the doctor and complained about insomnia due to stopping amitriptyline. Got described Atarax 25 mg (hydroxyzine hydrochloride; I think it’s called Vistaril in America). It’s an antihistamine. It does make me sleep (for more than 1-2 hours a night) and that’s wonderful! However, it makes me drowsy also the following day. Tonight I’m going to take only a half a pill and see if it still does the sleeping magic, but doesn’t leave me drowsy the next day.

    The most important thing is that I’m able to sleep again after a couple of months. I didn’t even wake up once during last night’s sleep (at least I don’t remember it).

    Hope you guys are doing well / coping!

    • Mascha February 17, 2018, 12:38 pm

      I have been on this medication for 4 years. I have MS and took this for nerve pain and anxiety. The last year it made my symptoms worse and I checked the side effects again and it actually states MS like symptoms. It could be that my MS was made worse by this drug. I’m now going through withdrawals and started at 100 mg and reduced bit by bit but a bit too fast. 6 weeks later and I’m now on 10 mg and will stay in this for now. Withdrawal is terrible but I think I’ll get me back to the way I was. I also gained weight on this which sucks. I’ve lost it now.

  • Mary March 3, 2017, 6:12 am

    I had been taking 20 mg of Elavil for the past six years for esophageal spasm pain, but was weaned off if it by my G.I. Doctor after developing gastroparesis due to this med. I struggled with my appetite while on the Elavil, having hungry days, but since weaning off this med I am RAVENOUS! All I think about is food, and I am now gaining weight.

    I am not taking other medication that would do this. Prior to the Elavil my appetite was normal and I am feeling very discouraged. Has this affected others and will I lose this ravenous appetite?

  • Josie March 1, 2017, 2:58 pm

    I came off Elavil last summer, after a slow taper. The first 3 weeks were very hard. Tired, eyes not focusing, very nauseous, irritable, very anxious in the morning, no interest in anything or anybody. Then gradually everything got a bit easier and for some of that time… I had odd moments of the real me coming through which I hadn’t felt for years. I could laugh, concentrate and felt human and not like a zombie!!

    After 10 weeks I had a really bad day of depression like a big bang, so I went back on the tablets just after Christmas – only 10mg. Silly me, I felt worse again and am now coming off again them very slowly. I know when we come off them completely it will take a while for things to get back to normal, but I won’t give in this time. We can all get there and I hope everyone well on their journey. Take care.

  • Jeannie February 28, 2017, 6:47 pm

    My mother-in-law was on this for 2 days and her side effects were severe confusion! It has been 4 days since she has taken any pills and she is still having severe confusion about her time of day, mixes up night and day can’t understand the days on the calendar. It is like a switch flipped in her brain in this area only. Hope it wears off soon!!!

  • Mrs anxt February 15, 2017, 11:50 am

    I just started tapering off. I got the recommendation from my physician to start the protocol. I have had cluster headaches and vomiting for the last 2 days and have been unable to sleep for the past 2 nights as well. I hope this gets easier.

    • Josie March 4, 2017, 12:47 pm

      Hi starting to taper 10mg, again and feeling really down and nauseous. Am down to 5mg and will stay on that for a few weeks. I hate the foggy head and not being able to concentrate on anything but I’m sure this will pass. I must give myself time, they say time is the best healer so here we go… good luck to every one on this journey.

  • mary February 12, 2017, 1:16 am

    I have been on 100 mg. for 21 years this month, for nerve damage pain from severe Guillain-Barre Syndrome. I lost a child to a rare cancer 15 years ago. I am not sure which experience caused me to gain so much weight, eating and grieving, or from the Elavil, probably a combination of both. She was diagnosed with cancer exactly 5 years to the day that I got my diagnosis.

    I was not expected to live, but I did. My daughter had an 80% chance of survival, but after fighting for her life for just 19 months, she died. I have such survivor-guilt, it should have been me, not my daughter. These past few years I have began sweating from my scalp, not any other part of my body, just makes my hair soaking wet in just a few minutes, so humiliating!

    I am post-menopausal, they for sure are not hot flashes, which I am so grateful for not having. It is normal for women who have had auto-immune diseases to go thru menopause quickly, and with very few symptoms. So today I began searching for any meds that can cause this thing called hyperhidrosis, and found out that Elavil was on that list.

    I also take morphine, which is also on that list, but for now I don’t think I can stop that med, as I have so much nerve damage pain. I am also chronically constipated, sometimes don’t got for 3-4 weeks at a time, even though I have tried every single drug, herb, drink, foods and meds that are available for it. I know that being on Morphine and the Elavil are causing it.

    I was reading all of your comments, and boy, am I ever surprised! I had no idea how bad Elavil is for the body, and all of the things that can happen when weaning off of it. I am so sorry so many of you are having such a terrible time while on it, and now getting off of it. Last night, instead of taking the usual 100 mg., I only took 75 mg., and will continue that for a few days.

    At least I know what I can expect while getting off of them, does not sound like much fun. The thing I am afraid of is the not sleeping, because they sure made me sleep well for all of these years. I will check back here and let you know how it is going. Thanks for all of you who have left comments on here :)

  • Katie February 7, 2017, 10:37 pm

    I’ve been on 50mg of the drug for around 2 years. I’ve never felt right since starting the medication. Over the past 2 years I’ve been tested for Parkinson’s and MS do to how I’ve been feeling. I gained around 21 lbs and just have not felt myself. The other week I randomly checked the side effects of this drug and low and behold everything I’ve been feeling is under the side effects list.

    No doctor has never linked my symptoms to the drug. So I decided to go cold turkey and just totally stop the drug. I’m one week in and feel totally awful. I’ve been feeling extremely sick and even been sick a few times. I’ve had headaches, body aches, sweating, feeling so cold, gone off food, dehydrated, diarrhea, fatigue, drained, weak and I don’t think I’ve ever looked this pale or lifeless.

    I feel like a smack head coming off crack. I’m hoping the withdraw symptoms won’t last too long as I’ve had to take time off work. I know it’s going to benefit me in the long run, but it’s a real struggle at the minute.

  • zed February 1, 2017, 2:59 am

    Was initially prescribed 25mg Amitriptyline (Elavil) off-label for nerve pain a little over a year ago. Quickly found it didn’t help for pain and was advised by same physician to amp up to 50mg nightly. Got no pain relief but slept really good.

    January of this year decided to reevaluate what I was taking and why. Since it wasn’t helping for pain decided to stop taking Amitriptyline and doing some research came upon this site. Why the hell don’t our physicians warn us about this crap.

    Reading others bad experiences from going cold turkey I decided on a somewhat arbitrary plan to taper off the med. Went from 50mg nightly to 37.5mg for 14 days, then from 37.5mg to 25mg for 14 days. All fine to this point.

    Now am into my 14 day stint at 12.5mg nightly. The trouble begins. I’m waking after only a few hours of sleep, laying there in the dark with really nasty anxiety.

    To those experiencing like withdrawal symptoms my only counsel is to paraphrase Saint Ignatius of Loyola, make no life changing decisions while in the depths of desolation. This crap really messes with your mind. zed

    • Mascha Brautigam February 18, 2018, 9:18 pm

      Just wanted to tell you all that it will get better in time. I was on 100 mg for 3 yrs or so. I took it for my MS symptoms. Coming to realize that my MS symptoms got worse as it states “can cause MS like symptoms, even if you don’t have it”. I already posted on here but wanted to point out that my neurologist and doctor both didn’t get the connection.

      After reading a few different sites to compare the side effects, the puzzle came together. At this point my doctor and neurologist both wanted to keep me on 75 mg but I told them after taking it, my symptoms got worse. They didn’t really dig themselves into this theory so sometimes we need to do our own research and listen to our bodies.

      I tapered a bit too quickly but after 4 weeks the bad shock is over and starting to feel human. This drug I would not recommend to anyone, even someone with MS. Search a better drug.

  • Jennifer January 30, 2017, 1:52 pm

    Stopped taking the Amitrip last week. 50mg for 4 years. Gradually lowered the dose for a month, from Doc’s instruction. Obviously not long enough. All this weekend I have had the most awful stomach cramps, severe headaches, like a worst ever hangover, cold, have not slept all weekend, lethargic and tearful.

    Not nearly as much as others have been experiencing here, but enough to make me panic last night and resort to waiting for the Doc to phone me today. I just can’t get rid of this pain at the moment. I have a low pain threshold. Will be interesting to hear how Doc can help me through this, without prescribing going back on to the Amitrip, which I won’t. Evil meds, just evil.

  • Karen January 23, 2017, 2:57 am

    After taking elavil with gabapentin for nerve pain for far too many years, I finally decided no more elavil. I’ve been reading horror stories what it can do to the liver, heart and kidneys. In all the time I’ve been on it, no mention of the dangers. No checking everything. Yes I know, I’m responsible for my own health.

    Told my Dr I wanted to stop taking it. He asked if I’d consider taking it again if I stop and want to go back on. Um no. Bad bad evil drug. He wanted to replace it with another drug. Ummm. No.

    Stopped taking it five days ago. Feeling sick to my stomach. “Spinny vertigo like sensation kicking in”. I’ve been on 25mg. Doctor told me I would not experience any withdrawal symptoms. Now I’m afraid to tell him. It is not all in my head either!

    • Jennifer January 30, 2017, 1:57 pm

      Sounds like we both stopped the stuff recently. It’s hell. Doctor said no withdrawal symptoms? jeez… I thought I was really in danger last night. Hubby wanted to phone an ambulance, but I wouldn’t let him. I know I should have, but far too scared to be taken in to A & E. Stress levels through the roof. Hope you manage ok. Speak to another Doctor if you have to.

  • Kathy January 17, 2017, 10:45 pm

    I took my last tablet last October, 2016. I withdrew in a period of one month and had been taking it since 2005 or for 11 years. As soon as I moved from 50 mg to 25 mg, the brain zaps or whooshing started. It wasn’t until I was off from in for a few weeks when the flu symptoms started and fatigue.

    I also have the hypersensitivity to light and sound. I also have a headache most mornings and end up taking a migraine medication 2-3 times a week. If I feel good it is for a brief period in the day and if I try to go grocery shopping or the like, I begin to feel sick and cannot wait to rest again.

    I have very high anxiety which I think can be from being off from the amitriptyline but also because I am upset to be sick in part of every day. I am now able to go to sleep without trembling but in the beginning I had many sleepless nights.

    I can only sleep for an hour or two at a time and then I am up again and back down. Does anyone know how long to expect this to last? My doctor doesn’t seem to believe this is withdrawal but I was fine before going off from this except for muscle contractions which I am now rid of.

    • Geoff January 19, 2017, 1:46 am

      Hi Kathy… I too have been off the drug cold turkey since October 2016 and am having same withdrawals as you. I was only on 10 mg for 5 years and my doctor also says I wouldn’t be withdrawing but I beg to differ. I got to sleep at 10 and am awake at 1 am and lay there for 3 or more hours which causes me to be fatigued when I get up in the morning. I have read through all the replies on this site and realise this could go on for many months and accept that… Just wish I never took it to start with.

  • Catherine Sodano January 5, 2017, 2:26 am

    Ok. Here it goes. So I was prescribed amitriptyline for a severe esophageal disorder that prevented me from swallowing. Yes, it helped me swallow, but it literally ruined everything else in my life. I gained 40 pounds, I slept 12 to 14 hours every single day, the fatigue and malaise was overwhelming to a point that I could not even work.

    I found myself not being able to remember the simplest of things. I was foggy, I felt like a zombie every single day. I had no energy. In addition to that, the struggle gave me atrial premature contractions and ventricular premature contractions of the heart. After that, I had to see an electrophysiologist and was put on beta blockers! As if I was not exhausted enough I had to be put on a pill that lowered my blood pressure and heart rate.

    For 2 1/2 years it allowed me to eat but ruined everything else in my life. I recently underwent surgery in August to try to get off the drugs and ever since, even with the slow taper, I have felt like I am dying every single day. My heart races, my hands jitter, I feel like I’m going to throw up, I am exhausted, moody, I feel like I have the flu every single day.

    It has only been one month since I have been off the pill and I pray to God every day that this gets better soon because this is a real struggle. I cannot perform to my greatest ability whether at work or at home and it’s extremely frustrating. Reading these comments makes me feel not so alone. Can anyone say how long their withdrawal symptoms have lasted? I’m trying to find a light at the end of the tunnel here.

  • Pam January 2, 2017, 4:03 am

    I have been taking this medicine for about 12 years. I have 25 mg tablets and I cut them in quarters and tried to wean for 6 months. Then a quarter tablet every other day for 6 months now down to a quarter every 3 days.

    Every time I get to the fourth day with no pill the itching is so bad I can’t stand it! I have also noticed that I’m not myself such as not focusing or getting upset for no reason. My doctor says to take Benadryl for a week to curb the itching but it makes me sleepy.

    I have to work and cannot be asleep at my desk. This medicine is awful to get off of! I also had gained weight in the beginning. I feel more alert upon waking now but that fourth day puts me back in a rut.

  • Roy December 24, 2016, 12:48 pm

    I’m 29 and have chronic fatigue syndrome and housebound with it. I’d been having a period of severe insomnia so my GP put me on 25 mg of amitriptyline but I was only taking half a tablet. All was good for six weeks and then it started putting me in a waking coma so had to stop it immediately. I then spent the next three months like a zombie struggling to even read or make a phone call.

    Now I’m three months off this drug and I’ve been all of a sudden hit with a feeling of impending doom and suicidal thoughts and this isn’t like me at all. I feel very poisoned and feel generally very poorly. Just wondering people’s opinions. Do you think it has taken me three months to begin withdrawal due to my condition and if so does anyone know how long these suicidal thoughts and doom feelings will go on for?

    I’ve had many physical symptoms but the psychological ones are by far the worst for me. I just want this feeling of doom to go away, I can’t bear it. Feel like I’m starting to go insane. I’ve started taking tryptophan, don’t know if it will help. I can bear the physical. Any input would be much appreciated. Thanks, Roy.

    • Sunny December 29, 2016, 6:10 pm

      Hi Roy: I am not familiar with chronic fatigue syndrome (like mono?) and why you are housebound with it? I did read that some graded exercise can help and there are some medicines to treat the symptoms. I also read that it can last a short while or much longer. I am sorry you have it at the age of 29. You should be out doing things 29 year-olds are doing, for sure.

      I don’t think suicidal thoughts are ever normal. Sadness, sure, but not suicide. I hope you have someone you can talk to about these feelings. If not, please talk to your doctor or go to a hospital and tell them how you are feeling. They may be able to offer some guidance or put you in touch with someone who understands and can help.

      That being said, I do believe the amitriptyline can promote feelings of not caring. I took it for just about 2 years and I can tell you that I stopped caring about anything. I was happy to sit by myself and not speak a word, to anyone. I stopped talking to my co-workers and only addressed my family if they asked a question.

      I became a zombie. I know that exercise (even walking DVD’s in my living room) helped. I have been off the meds for about 6 months and I am still a little zombie’ish. I can stay up all night and I do get migraines, regularly. I am a bit more social (not 100%). I hope you feel better soon. It does take a long time to return to “normal”.

    • Claire January 4, 2017, 3:33 pm

      Hi Roy, Sorry to hear about your symptoms. My 15 year old daughter has chronic fatigue syndrome and like you is pretty debilitated by it (walks for 10 minutes some/most days) but has to pace herself constantly every day just doing very small activities at home. She gets terrible headaches and face pain / hot red face from time to time – many doctors have said for her to take Amitriptyline, but I have just stopped taking it myself, so we know what it does – basically it is a sedative isn’t it?

      So why on earth you’d want to give that to someone with chronic fatigue syndrome I have no idea!! Anyhow, she is thinking about it as a ‘last resort’ and probably won’t want to ever take it. For me, I’ve been on a very low dose (10mg) for about a year and a half – for digestive issues following gallbladder removal – it has helped break a cycle and those symptoms are way better now. BUT the Amitriptyline did make me soooo tired to begin with, then I was ok, and more recently I was just tired all the time, especially in the mornings, took me ages to wake up.

      I stopped suddenly because I just wanted to stop and was on such a small dose anyhow. I was a bit ‘hyper’ to begin with, I’m definitely more awake, especially when I first wake up, but I can’t get to sleep and I’m now having absolutely terrible insomnia! That is why I am reading everyone’s comments on here. So, I wouldn’t recommend it for CFS from my experience – for CFS are you taking magnesium?

      And there is some new research I read recently that you need amino acids, basically from proteins – to get your energy (rather than glucose). For some really good diet and supplement advice you could look on Dr Sarah Myhill’s website, this is the ‘route’ we are taking, my daughter has seen an environmental doctor and is using diet and supplements to try to gradually help her CFS – some areas are beginning to improve just a tiny bit.

      I’m trying 5-htp to replace the drop in serotonin levels (for myself), wondered if anyone else has any recommendations for terrible insomnia (and night time anxiety) that seems to be part of stopping Amitriptyline? Good luck all, and keep on pushing through, we’ll get there eventually!

  • Mika December 20, 2016, 10:03 pm

    I have been taking 25 mg of amitriptyline for 2 years now and stopped around August. I have since been dealing with horrible withdrawal symptoms. For the first week I was dizzy constantly then it seemed to get better with occasional dizzy spells then about 2 months after stopping it became horrible.

    I started experiencing chest pain, sweating, nausea, diarrhea, all the above plus serious shortness of breath. I can deal with all other symptoms but the shortness of breath is horrible! Anyone else experienced the shortness of breath with withdrawal?

    • Geoff December 22, 2016, 12:15 am

      Yes, the shortness of breath is horrible. I had it real bad for the first 4 weeks after stopping but has slowly got better. I am coming up 3 months since stopping but still having fatigue, insomnia and muscle aches from withdrawing. From what I have read this could still last several months…

      • Mika December 25, 2016, 10:20 pm

        Geoff, I had to get back on the medication as it was so horrible I would have such bad anxiety from it. I was stopped cold turkey so I am gonna try sometime next year to wean off. I had been taking 25 mg for 2 years but started back on 10 mg about 6 weeks ago.

        I still have the shortness of air/air hunger and occasional muscle pain in my legs so I went back up to 25 mg about 3 days ago and hoping that takes care of it soon! This is a horrible drug and wish I would have known as I would have never started on it. Thanks for you input. I was really starting to worry something bad was wrong with me.

  • jessica reed December 14, 2016, 10:22 pm

    I have been on 200mg of amitriptyline for 4 years for chronic headaches. I found that the drug actually caused me to have anxiety and feel extremely depersonalized. Over the last year I have been tapering down 200-100-50-25- and 6 days ago I took my last pill. It has been difficult and I have experienced every single one of the physical symptoms of withdrawal listed above.

    The worst being headaches, stomach ache, fatigue, and trouble sleeping. I feel like I have a massive hangover that won’t end. I don’t remember my symptoms being this terrible from my previous tapering, maybe because my brain was still getting some, just a smaller dose. Now that none is entering my body it has been tough.

    The previous reduction side effects usually lasted 2-4 weeks and decreased greatly every day!!! On day 6 (today) I started to see a slight improvement since stopping the drug completely. The head throbbing comes a goes and I’ve actually had a little bit of an appetite. Some psychological symptoms I’ve had have been crying spells, anxiety, paranoia, songs stuck in my head (for days and days), feeling in a cloud, and extreme depression.

    But I keep reminding myself that it’s just the drug and eventually it will pass! it really does and you will feel so much better once you are drug free. I’m feeling better already! Don’t give up! I’ve found that drinking as much water as possible really helps with the headaches and body aches. So does fresh air.

    I live in MN so the cold air feels great when I have the sweats and a hot head. I’ve started taking vitamins such as D3, iron, and fish oil and they help tremendously. Don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Please talk to someone, it helps. :) Good luck you can do it. :)

  • Della Hicks December 6, 2016, 10:24 pm

    I have mobility issues, resulting from an MVA many years ago. My knee needed replacing, but due to my age, was left too long. This, from what my doctors can gather, resulted in Chronic Pain. I have taken Morphine for years for the actual pain, and because the doctor feels I am now developing nerve issues, placed me on 75mg. of Amitriptyline at bedtime.

    It did not matter how early I would take it, I could not physically get out of bed, until noon or later. Some nights it would work within an hour, other nights, I would still be up at 6:00 a.m., when my husband would come home off night shift! I am no longer able to work, haven’t in several years, however we have a 17 year old son, in his senior year of high school, and very involved in sports. Football has just wrapped, and we are into hockey full swing.

    He had a tournament an hour away this past Saturday, December 03, so after having gone down to just 25mg. of Amitriptyline over the past two months (with no side affects), I decided to come off the last 25 mg. I took my last dose on November 27th. Reason being, I knew I had to be up at 6:00 a.m. on Sat., just so we could get there on time, and had hoped that the few days span would at least begin to turn me around.

    After a couple lousy hours of sleep Friday night, I sat between games outside the rink in our vehicle, with a bucket under my chin. I am dizzy, nauseated, and cold to the bone all the time. The only let up, is when I first take my scheduled dose of Morphine. Otherwise, I am living on Gravol & ginger-ale!

    I have nothing even started for Christmas, as it quickly approaches, and am still not able to get up until noon or later. The only consolation out of this, is my appetite is back. Most articles/message boards I have read, talk about weight gain on this medication. In my case, I had no appetite, which is not my natural tendency! So much so, that my husband was worrying about me, and I was often only eating one meal a day, and then only after remembering I hadn’t eaten all day!

    Everyday I wake up hoping this day will be better, and I know that it will be eventually. I just wish I had known how difficult this would be, or I likely never would have agreed to start it in the first place. Stay strong everyone!

    • Sunny December 14, 2016, 2:07 pm

      Oh Della, your side effects sound awful, but I have to wonder if some of the effects are from the morphine, as well? I remember receiving morphine 1 time in my life and it made me a zombie. The amitriptyline also has zombie tendencies. Neither drug is good, long term, and your pain needs to be controlled while still allowing you to function and even work.

      I know a few people who have had knee replacements (some older, some younger) and they say it was worth it. Why can’t your knee be replaced, now? I would get a 2nd opinion before I would just live-with-it. Your son and husband could help you while you rehab after the surgery. Good luck.

  • Kathy December 6, 2016, 10:13 pm

    I was weaning off amitriptyline very fast going from 50 mg to 25 mg instantly and totally in three weeks. I had been advised to do so learning that more recently the side effects are worse than previously thought. I had been on amitriptyline for more than eleven years. I just turned 70 and was given amitriptyline for migraines to reduce frequency and severity.

    The first thing I noticed was the whooshing in my head. I had not expected any side effects. I have experienced almost all now except suicide thank goodness. I have been off a little over a month. The worst is the muscle pain and heart palpitations. I went to ER with the abnormal heart beat and checked out okay. I was also offered Trazodone and after two nights the palpitations were worse and will take that again.

    The hardest part for me is hoping this all ends. I have to sit down often because of muscle pain and I feel anxious and so frustrated. I really feel doctors do not believe there could be these side effects to the extent I have read here and feel they have nothing to offer in help.

  • Mikayla November 20, 2016, 7:18 pm

    I am on week three after tapering off amitriptyline. I was on 50-25 mg for 4 years for migraine prevention. DO NOT take this drug unless it is a last resort! I wish I would have switched to something else a long time ago. I started Topamax before tapering off because amitriptyline stopped working for me after a while and made me tired constantly, and I couldn’t handle taking anything higher than 50mg because of the side effects.

    The withdrawal has been horrible for me, I have had terrible headaches every day, dizziness, flu like symptoms, and trouble sleeping. My face feels itchy which I didn’t realize could have been caused from this, and I have also dropped 10 pounds and now weigh 115 at 5’7″. I am just waiting to feel good again – mostly for the headaches/migraines to stop as the topamax was helping before I started tapering off this.

    I have been taking my maxalt when I get a migraine almost every day lately which I know isn’t good either as that can cause rebound headaches when taken too often. Has anyone else had a similar experience with the migraines??

    • Patty December 14, 2016, 8:48 pm

      I was on 75 mg for migraines. I started at 25 mg about 12 years ago and my doctor upped it when the dosage stopped working. I went from 75 to 25 mg pretty quickly once I decided I wanted to get off this drug (gained 55 pounds in 12 years) and thought I could keep going. I went to 1/2 a 25mg pill for 4 days and then stopped. The withdrawal since that drop has been unbearable.

      Horrible migraines, my neck is so stiff I can’t turn my head and I’m sick to my stomach. I stopped 13 days ago, but yesterday I took 1/2 a 25mg pill. It didn’t help. I took another this morning. It didn’t help. When I get home I’m going to take the whole 25 mg and pray for the best. I can’t function like this and it’s difficult to hide what I’m going through while I’m at work.

      Especially when I keep putting my coat on at my desk because I’m freezing! I’ve developed a working theory – I read that amitriptyline builds up in your system. I think this causes the tail end of the tapering to be much worse than the beginning. Once (and if) I feel better soon on the 25 mg, I’m going to lower it by about 2 mg and stay at that for 2 weeks. Then another 2 mg.

      I sure hope this works. I can’t believe that my doctor didn’t warn me about what painful hell it is getting off this medication. Did I mention the evening fever for the last 3 nights? I must say though, I’m happy I found this site and that clearly these symptoms are not just in my head or exaggerated.

      Mikayla – my doctor prescribed a daily triptan about a year ago because I had tried so many other drugs without success. It was the best year of my life until this amitriptyline nightmare. Try Googling “daily triptans”. There are several articles saying that they do not cause rebound headaches and that the studies that said they did were flawed because the participants were also taking daily (or almost daily) NSIADS which DO cause rebound headaches.

      To those of you who commented several months to a year ago – can you please let the rest of us know how you are doing and hopefully send a little hope our way?

  • Susan November 19, 2016, 3:27 am

    I have slowly gone from 10 mg a day up to 75 mg a day to control vestibular migraines. It’s stopped working to treat the migraines, so I’m trying to wean myself off it. It’s going in fits and starts. My patience with students is at a low ebb, I feel like I have a large rock in my stomach, and I’m dizzy.

    I’ve also had unexplained itches, and periods of High Emotion. Glad to read that others have had the same and worse withdrawal symptoms, so I know I’m not crazy. It worked pretty well for almost 2 years, but it needs to go away now.

  • Mika November 13, 2016, 5:11 pm

    I took 25 mg of amitriptyline for migraines for almost 2 years. My doctor took me off cold turkey (craziest thing ever) the first of August. In the last month my symptoms have gotten horrible and gradually worse. I’ve had all the above symptoms plus mainly feeling like I can’t breathe (heavy, congested feeling). Has anyone else had the breathing symptoms? I recently requested my doctor to put me back on the medication so I can be weaned off properly.

    • Bill November 15, 2016, 2:59 pm

      Yes, shortness of breath is a very common withdrawal symptom when you stop cold turkey. What happens is your body and nervous system goes into shock mode by dropping to 0mg without weaning off and your brain is trying to find the drug but you are not feeding its constant supply so your body goes haywire with many of your bodies processes disrupted. One of these disruptions is breathing.

      Because you have been blocking the choline neurotransmitter for such a long period of time (2 years), it will take your nervous system a long time to produce this in normal quantities for you to breathe better and freely again. The lack of this hormone is one of the many reasons why your short of breath as there is a current lack of supply of this receptor to feed your respiratory circulation system. Therefore your involuntary muscles which you don’t control such as your breathing and digestion will be majorly impacted.

      Another reason could be because your sinus is able to run freely again and your mucosal membranes in your nose is trying to return to a moist state rather than a super-dried state which the medication has done to your nose. This will make you feel congested and breathing heavily. You can try some OTC antihistamines to combat this. Trust me there is nothing wrong with your lungs or other organs.

      The best way to go about this is to resume your previous dosage and wean off slowly over a few months from 25mg to 0mg and you should feel like your breathing is more stable. Good Luck!

      • Mika December 21, 2016, 3:51 am

        Bill, about how long should it take for relief of withdrawal symptoms including shortness of air after starting on amitriptyline again? And will being on a 10 mg dose instead of 25 mg (what I had been taking) affect that time of recuperation?

        • Bill February 14, 2017, 3:04 pm

          Sorry for the long awaited reply, but to answer your question… I don’t think there’s a significant difference between 10mg and 25mg if you’re only aiming at getting immediate relief from shortness of air. You can try a minimal dose to see what effect is has, then maybe try 25mg if it doesn’t work or you don’t feel quite right yet. I’m sure 10mg can provide some relief as you body being on medication again is finally getting what it has been receiving for the past months hence providing you a feeling of stability and function. Cheers and hope things go well!

  • Gab November 10, 2016, 12:26 pm

    Hi. I am not even an adult yet and was prescribed these pills to be taken for bad headache and nausea for a concussion. I had only been taking a low dose, little over 30mg for about 3-5 weeks. I stopped because I was experiencing severe dizziness.

    I was weaned off it but it has now been a few days since I stopped taking them and I feel so terribly sick. I have never felt this nauseous in my life! I also feel dizzy and have a headache. DOES ANYONE KNOW ANYTHING THAT WILL HELP THIS?!

    • Bill November 15, 2016, 2:41 pm

      Nausea is a common side effect and is normal to feel nauseated when you stop the medication because of the histamine and cholinergic rebound effect. There are a lot of natural remedies you can partake in to reduce your symptoms if you don’t want to take any OTC drugs. Things such as drinking warm room temperature water (with or without lemon) will settle your stomach to reduce this feeling.

      You can also drink Chamomile or Licorice Tea to calm the stomach nerves and settle your inner gastrointestinal ecosystem. Ginger tablets 400mg can also relax your nerves and aid digestion to help nausea. Try not to eat large meals and only eat in moderate quantities preferably a low fat diet. Another important way to beat nausea is get walking outside of home in the sunlight for a few minutes, it will make you feel more relaxed and minimize nausea sensations. Getting plenty of rest, warm showers and sleep is crucial.

      There are also prescription medications you can ask from your doctor to lessen nausea. One good example is Zofran (5TH3 antagonist). You can also ask for Ativan, a less potent benzodiazepine which contain anti-nausea properties to ease your condition. 1mg is enough to do the job. Please do not begin another drug dependency and only take these Rx drugs when you strongly feel nauseated.

      You can also try Phenergan (Promethazine) which is a strong anti-histamine/cholinergic drug which many people use to lessen withdrawal symptoms like nausea. Do your best to take the natural route and use non-drug remedies to cure your nausea unless it becomes unbearable then see a doctor and talk to him/her about the meds above. Your only young and your body is strong and fast enough to recover from a short-term use of amitriptyline. Cheers.

  • Sunny November 7, 2016, 9:00 pm

    Hang in there everyone. I have been off the meds for more than 24 weeks… I still have periods of depression, but who doesn’t, am I right? I still get migraines, some I can power through, others I have to take an Imitrex.

    I think it is natural to feel sad sometimes. I think it is natural to feel lazy sometimes. It is only a problem if it interferes with the things we need to do and if we have feelings of hopelessness…that is probably not ok and we should ask for help.

    Withdrawing from this medicine makes our bodies have to adjust to living without it. The medicine changed the way our bodies reacted to things. This takes time, more than a little time.

    We should be kind to ourselves and our bodies… our systems will catch-on and tune back in, when they can.

  • Joanna November 7, 2016, 5:13 pm

    Was placed on this medication for close on 6 years to supposedly help with lower back pain. Long story short? Weaned myself off gradually – it’s been almost 2 years now since my last dose and I feel totally *broken* by this medication. I can barely walk. It feels as if my muscles have totally wasted away. I can no longer do my own shopping – have to be wheeled around the super market by a helper as I can only go out in a wheel chair now.

    I am anxious 24/7 with the most horrific nightmares *if* I can get some sleep. All of that started after coming off the drug. So the doctor suggested I gradually go back on it, gradually increasing dosages. I was *so* desperate to feel like my old self again – back ache included!

    But the higher up I went on the Trepiline again, the worst I got to the point that I once again tapered myself off this miserable medication but after doing a whole lot of research, all the long lasting side effects I now have are mentioned on many of the professional medical sites as possible long lasting side effects regarding the use of Trepiline. This medication is EVIL – it has totally changed me into someone I can no longer recognize physically or emotionally/mentally.

  • CaliSunshinegirrl October 31, 2016, 11:41 pm

    For people having trouble sleeping, try Natural Calm. It’s a magnesium supplement you add to water or juice. I take 1 tbs in OJ before bed and sleep like a baby with no issues in the morning. It’s super sour, but OJ seems to make it more palatable, along with chugging it with a straw. Melatonin tends to make me depressed – hopefully that goes away once the amitriptyline is out of my system.

    I’ve been taking 100mg of amitriptyline for 5+ years and it’s taken 18 months to taper off. I didn’t realize it was withdrawals making me feel so horrible, so it was really slow going. I was taking it for chronic migraine/headache (copper toxicity), and the migraines were replaced by withdrawal headaches. Now I have depression and difficulty concentrating, but I’m close to the end! Yay!!

  • Charlise October 27, 2016, 4:51 pm

    I stopped cold turkey, I couldn’t take all of the side effects any more. My mouth was always dry and I was always in the bathroom peeing, and only wanting to go #2. I had to take medicine to go number #2 and they didn’t always work either. So I was always bloated, and constantly gaining weight no matter what. I had no sex drive and that isn’t the best when you are married.

    What made is worse is that it didn’t alleviate all of my nerve pain, so I said why take them. The trips that I have been on since being off is wow, powerful and scary. Feeling sad and depressed for no apparent reason, feeling angry at the smallest thing.

    So instead of giving in to these feelings I have to remind myself that its withdrawal from the meds and I have to tell myself that I am ok. It’s been two weeks since I have been off, I have lost 4 pounds so far and I look forward to not having this in my system anymore.

  • geri October 20, 2016, 12:15 am

    I’ve been on amitriptyline for at about 12 years. Until recently, I had no idea that my horrible leg aches were from the drug. Tried stopping several times, but started crying all over the place. Thought the crying was because I must be depressed. Aha, no, it’s a withdrawal symptom! I have been off this drug for three weeks–haven’t cried.

    I will never take this RX again. It kept me in some sort of fog. And, oh, yes, I am chubby. I am 69, work out 3-4 x/wk., am a vegan and my health is pretty darn good. All of your comments were so validating. Thank you. PS: Maybe the weight will come off, too.

  • Natalie October 18, 2016, 9:18 pm

    My doctor did not tell me to taper when going of amitriptyline so I stopped cold turkey after taking it for 5 years. I stopped taking it at the end of July and started feeling sick in August. September I was more sick than I have ever been in my life – fatigue, headaches, heart palpitations & racing heart, insomnia, hypersensitivity, depersonalization, sweating, joint pain, muscle tremors and anxiety.

    Now mid way through October I am still feeling awful – the anxiety, insomnia & depersonalization are the worst. I just feel so terrible in general. It is day by day. I am clinging to the hope that these symptoms will eventually get better and then go away!!!!

    • Bill November 14, 2016, 9:05 am

      I also had the same experience in going cold turkey from amitriptyline but I was a very low dose and felt horrific withdrawal symptoms. I advise if you were on a dosage of 10mg or more to go back on the medication and wean off slowly over a few weeks to months by cutting in half then quarters. This way your nervous system will get accustomed to the drop in dose and doesn’t get the gigantic shock by dropping to 0mg.

      However, if you don’t want to go back on the drug the only way to feel better is wait a few months. You will definitely feel like the drug is still in your system for a couple of weeks. The headaches, anxiety, aches and pains will slowly disappear but its a long process which can take months. I suggest you take time off your work schedule to properly detox and treat yourself well.

      You definitely need a good diet, sleep and light exercise whenever possible in the sunlight or at the gym. Take a Vitamin B Complex, Lecithin and a quality Omega-3 fish oil to replenish your brains neurotransmitter balance for better focus as it has been thrown out of wack by the medicine. As the drug is a potent anti-cholinergic you will need some multivitamins to help facilitate acetylcholine production to make you feel well and functional again. All the best and stay positive!

  • Rachael October 2, 2016, 1:40 am

    1/10/2016. Wow I feel blessed to have found this website… I have been unwell for 2.5years with an undiagnosed auto immune disease. my Neurologist put me on Amitriptyline 10mg 2 years ago for nerve pain.. which helped slightly and did help me sleep… 3 weeks ago because of my chronic illness I developed anxiety for the first time ever in my life… which put me in emergency having a panic attack.

    My doctor then decided I should quit the amitriptyline and start Sertraline which I did… but this ended up with me having an allergic reaction and back in emergency again. Doctor said to stay off all meds… 2 weeks on I am still having withdrawals from amitriptyline… dizziness, vertigo, headaches, no energy, fatigue, feel sick like I’m going to throw up, teary and anxious, leg feel like jelly, loss of appetite, eye problems, etc.

    How long will this go on for? I haven’t been able to drive.. let alone walk very far… this is horrible… never would have gone on this medication if I knew how hard it is to get off. Does anyone know of any natural ways to help with withdrawal symptoms? Please help. Thank you.

    • Sunny October 19, 2016, 7:56 pm

      Every symptom you list is accurate for withdraw from this medicine. It takes longer to wean off the medicine that most people think. It took me longer to wean then the amount of time I took it… that sounds wrong, but it’s true. I have been off the meds completely for 20 weeks and I am still a zombie during the day… I can actually doze off at my desk and I still don’t seem to need sleep at night.

      Hang in there and remember not to sit around thinking about all the symptoms…try to find something you can do (read, exercise, stretch) if you are up to it, to get your mind onto another thought. Weaning takes time…knowing the reason why I felt so lousy and that I wasn’t alone made it easier for me to power through. Take care of yourself and get extra help if you need it.

  • Tracy Lamperti September 26, 2016, 3:16 am

    I found this because of my work with a client withdrawing from this med (not prescribed by me). These testimonials are breaking my heart. Keep seeking health. We have so many natural possibilities now that are backed by research.♡

  • Tim September 24, 2016, 6:21 am

    I’ve been on 50mg per night for insomnia for 10 years. Tried to quit several times but each time I’ve failed. Tried the tapering thing over several months but failed. I’m now determined to quit cold turkey. Really irritable and strong headaches. I’m taking sleeping pills to help me sleep. God help me – I’ve had enough.

    • Sunny September 27, 2016, 1:52 pm

      Hi Tim: Cold turkey does not work; 50 mg. is too high a dose to just quit. You could land in the emergency room and they will put you right back on the meds. The weaning has to be super, super gradual…months at each lowered dose and months at the next lowered dose and months…believe me. The effects of this medicine are dreadful. Be careful. You took the medicine for 10 years, it will take more than a few months to wean off.

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