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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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  • Jim Grondin September 21, 2016, 1:53 pm

    I have been on amitriptyline for 20 years. Between 150 and 300 mg at night for sleep. Side effects of coming off r terrible. Went down from 150 mg a night for past 10 years to 50mg 4 days ago. I will stop very soon. I mean within a few days. Anxiety and no or little sleep. I can take little or no sleep but anxiety is terrible.

    Headaches I have normally have are worse since cutting down. I need help to get rid of ANXIETY attacks. I feel like I’m coming off of cocaine or something. Not that I’ve been on cocaine. I will beat this but I just need help with Anxiety attacks for now. I’m taking one Pro Biotic pill (30 billion active cell) a day. It may help but not enough. Anyone know what else I could try?

    • Sunny September 30, 2016, 2:13 pm

      Jim, please don’t taper from 150 to 50…that is not gradual. Gradual is 150 to 140, then 130, then 120 and so on…it take months at each reduced dose for your central nervous system to adjust to each lowered dose. I know…it took me longer to get off the medicine that the time I was taking it. The medicine alters your body’s reaction to things, so it will take a long time for your body to adjust to it’s own natural reactions, again.

      It will happen, but it takes a very long time. If you are having anxiety attacks, it’s because you have reduced the dose too much, too soon. If you reduce the dose too much, too soon, your body does not handle it well and many people end up in the hospital and the hospital puts them back on the medicine. You need help to wean off correctly. Please ask a professional for assistance.

      My doctor was not aware the medicine is addicting…it isn’t really addicting, but your body becomes dependent on it and cannot function correctly without it (addicting?). Headaches, anxiety, depression, itching, insomnia, upset stomachs, etc. are all side effects of lowering the dose of this medicine. Anxiety is a tough one…many people go back on the medicine because they can’t deal with it.

      I lowered my dose by tiny amounts and stayed at each lowered dose 6-8 weeks (I was cutting the tiny 10 mg. pill into quarters). I have been off the medicine for a few months now…I am still a little zombie-like, still not sleeping well, having a few migraines each week (normal for me), but I am functioning. I have read it can take 6 months to feel normal again. Good luck to you.

  • Nicola September 15, 2016, 11:26 am

    I was only on 10mg for 8 months, this is my second week off them. I feel horrendous, nauseous, tingling crawling feeling on my skin, itchy legs, dizzy, headache, feel like my head is going to explode, fast heartbeat. I wish I never took them. Why do they even prescribe these? I am never taking pills again, I think it’s far too easy nowadays for docs to hand pills over regardless of the consequences.

  • Madeleine September 12, 2016, 10:15 pm

    I had been on this drug four years after prescribed by pain clinic to aid sleep during periods of back pain. After four years of gaining weight, feeling at times depressed, fatigued and generally not myself! I cut them down over a two week period and haven’t taken any at all for two weeks now. It has been the best thing I could have done, apart from joint pain, feeling like I have flu and not having a good night sleep for a month.

    I am beginning to feel myself again, I am happier and have even got my seance of humor back! Today, I even painted the garage and front door, an activity I just couldn’t have managed on the medication. My partner has noticed a remarkable difference in my well being and the increased energy levels are so welcome after dragging myself around for four years believing I had a serious illness. Two years ago I went cold turkey after traveling to Holland for a weekend and forgetting my medication, I ended up crying all weekend and having suicidal thoughts.

    When I mentioned it to my GP they insisted the amitriptyline wasn’t addictive and couldn’t possibly have caused my depression! I was really concerned about withdrawing and decided not to visit the GP before coming off them, instead I mentioned it to the pharmacist who was brilliant. It appears that withdrawal symptoms are not documented anywhere and anyone who tries to tell you this drug is not addictive doesn’t know what they are talking about.

  • Mark September 4, 2016, 7:56 pm

    Sleep apnea can cause fatigue and many of the other symptoms being attributed to amitriptyline withdrawal. Weight gain caused by amitriptyline increases the risk of sleep apnea. Amitriptyline can also mask sleep apnea.

    • Sunny September 16, 2016, 7:43 pm

      You are an idiot… I gained 5 pounds, hardly enough to suddenly develop sleep apnea.

  • Josie September 2, 2016, 8:11 am

    Hi I came off these tablets for 10 weeks and had some very good days then I had a really bad one and went back to Dr. He was very good and sympathetic and suggested that I go back on one half a tablet every other day and see him in a week. I have been spaced out, forgetful and panicky most of the time. Is it just me or can such a small amount make you feel so bad? I just don’t know where to turn! I’m seeing him later today at least it’s nice to talk to someone who does listen. Good Luck to everyone here.

  • Sunny August 31, 2016, 5:27 pm

    So, 12 weeks without Amitriptyline…it’s going to be ok. I am still a zombie during the day, ready to drop off to sleep at any moment, at my desk. I have even re-introduced caffeine back into my diet (iced coffee and hot tea). I have tons of energy in the evenings and cannot sleep without taking a low-dose xanax (.25 mg.). It really is shocking how grand an effect this medicine has, even at a low dose.

    I am getting migraines a few days each week, but I was getting those before the amitriptyline (that’s why they put me on it). I powered through a migraine on Monday without Imitrex… I won! Little victories. My stomach upset is gone, pretty much, but I still crave sweets and I do have a few pesky pounds to lose (about 5 would be super).

    I really need the zombie effect to go away. Hang in there!!!!!!

  • Frances August 24, 2016, 12:45 am

    So glad I found this. I have been on Endep for 5 years for chronic spinal nerve pain. Awesome drug for that but have had surgery and decided to go cold turkey. The amount of withdrawal symptoms that I did not even realise were withdrawal are listed here. Worst part is the headaches. I never suffer headaches. At least now I know what to expect and for approximately how long. Thank you everyone for posting.

  • Yvonne King August 16, 2016, 12:02 pm

    After starting Shingles November 2015 & the ending up with PHN have been on many drugs last one being Amitriptyline which helped get good nights sleep but felt horrible in the mornings. I was only on 10mg daily and against Doctors advice have gone cold turkey but can’t stop sneezing & have runny nose hope these won’t last long.

    I have been given Versatis patches for the PHN & they are very good best relief for PHN. But withdrawal symptoms are making me feel lousy but as a week since I came of AMY don’t want to go back again . I’m 87 now & was so fit before all of this but wish I had follow Docs advice & just cut down slowly. Good Luck to you all.

    • Sunny August 18, 2016, 3:02 pm

      Going cold-turkey is rough…I have read many posts on here and it seems to be nightmare’ish. Remember the real side effects take a few weeks to ramp-up. If you start feeling worse in a week or so, try not to panic and remember, it may be withdraw. Please be careful and if you are frightened by any of the symptoms, please get medical attention. You will hopefully bounce back, soon.

  • Roberta August 15, 2016, 4:13 am

    I tried to decrease the amitriptyline again for the past week and ended up having another horrible result and unsuccessful attempt. I decreased the dose from 200 mg to 175 mg. After a few days I started to have what I thought was an asthma attack; extreme shortness of breath that was unresponsive to my asthma medication.

    I felt so overwhelmed, anxious, tearful, fearful and didn’t connect the extreme shortness of breath with the amitriptyline taper. Then last night I increased my amitriptyline back to 200 mg and this morning the shortness of breath which had been totally overpowering was vastly improved. I now make a connection and am even more frightened. I don’t believe I can ever get off amitriptyline and think it will kill me.

    • Sunny August 18, 2016, 2:54 pm

      It sounds like you may need to taper your dose even slower. Maybe cutting it from 200 mg. to 175 mg. is too much. Talk with your doctor and try cutting it by 10 mg. instead of 25 mg., at first. The pills I have had were 10 mg. and 25 mg. I’m sure there are other dosages. I have read there is also a liquid available.

      Maybe the initial shock will be less if the reduction is less. It is also important to realize there will be side effects and they will be noticeable. If we remember we are going through withdraw, that helps. It also helps to try not to focus on every single feeling. Acknowledge it, but don’t obsess about it. I always have a “to-do” list.

      I add to it many times every day. I also cross things off as I complete them. I do not sit and worry. I try to stay busy and moving. It took a very long time to wean off this medicine, close to a year. Obviously your shortness of breath is worrisome. You should probably check with your doctor to make sure it is not something serious.

      You may need something to help with your nerves while you are weaning off this medicine. I know it sounds like trading 1 poison for another, but not every drug is addicting. If you taper more slowly and have something to help with your nerves, it may make the withdraw more bearable. Good luck.

  • shaw August 10, 2016, 2:32 pm

    Reading the comments here scared me. I was prescribed a very low dose of this medication for headaches and found that it made me cripplingly drowsy for the first few days and its headache prevention effects wore off in a few days with the drowsiness. I started taking half pills on July 3 and doubled my dose to the full pill on the 17th at the direction of my headache doctor (I think my dose was 10mg).

    I became annoyed when I researched and realized that this drug contained antihistamine because when I started taking it I had just finished weaning myself off of my OTC antihistamines, complete with withdrawal nightmares. I moved to every other night with the ami and became frustrated with the extreme nausea and migraines I was experiencing on the “off” days so I went cold turkey after 4 nights.

    It’s been 4 days now and I’m re-experiencing the antihistamine withdrawal symptoms. Severe nausea and skin crawling. thankfully the migraines disappeared and the itching/crawling seems much less severe than when I stopped my zyrtec and benadryl. I’m also lucky that I haven’t experienced any mental withdrawal symptoms, although I’d almost rather have mental symptoms than this physical agony that’s keeping me from enjoying myself at all.

    I’m hoping the effects will wear off sooner rather than later since I was on a very low dose for only 4 weeks, but for now it’s a waiting game.

    • Sunny August 16, 2016, 2:52 pm

      Be careful Shaw… the withdraw side affects do not usually show until you have been off the meds for 2-3 weeks. If you start feeling ill or “off”, remember it may be withdraw.

  • Sunny August 10, 2016, 1:37 pm

    So, 9 weeks without Amitriptyline. 2 migraines so far this week…had to take Imitrex for both. Super tired during the day… I am cutting my .25 mg xanax in half at bedtime, which is affecting my sleep, but I am so tired. I am a little moody, stomach a little upset… I feel like I am still on the medicine. I did read the side effects could last 6 months, so I guess they will last 6 months. Hang in there everyone.

  • Veronica August 6, 2016, 6:37 am

    Started on 20mg for depression/insomnia/anxiety. Being sexually harassed at work will do that to you! Upped to 25mg and I could finally sleep. Put in a formal complaint and eventually quit the job. After that I felt better mentally, though a little sedated and slow physically – a lot of fatigue. I have been on 25mg for nine months. I can sleep 12 hours straight if I let myself, though this is mainly at weekends when I don’t have to work.

    About a month ago, I switched Drs. I commented to her that I was putting on weight and she said it could be this drug. I decided to stop taking it since I’m not depressed at the moment. Thank goodness I googled this website and learnt about tapering off. Cut down to 20mg for a month weeks and have been on 15mg for a week or so.

    I can still sleep, though not as profoundly as before. I have been a little dizzy and it feels as though it’s coming from the center of my brain. I’ve had some headaches, but not migraines. Still feeling slow. Will try and walk a bit as suggested here. I will stay on 15mg for a couple more weeks, then drop to 10, 5 & finally 2.5 then 2.5 every other day. Have decided to allow 2 or 3 weeks for each new dose.

    Will report back after I’ve been completely off it for a month or two. I hope it’s good news and not side-effect city.

  • Bessie August 2, 2016, 5:20 am

    I have been on amitriptyline 150mg/day for a year or so, for depression. I’m switching to another drug as it was causing terrible hot flashes and night sweats (I’m post surgical menopause, already on double dose HRT as I’m only in my 30’s). I’m delighted to say it has taken just 3 weeks to taper the amitrip down to zero. Withdrawals have been vivid dreams, mild irritability and taste changes.

    No big deal. Having previously spent 2 awful years weaning off paroxetine and 18 completely hellish months getting off venlafaxine, this has been a doddle by comparison. As a rule with antidepressants, the shorter the drug’s half-life, the worse the withdrawal kicks you, as drug levels in the body drop very sharply. Fluoxetine is easy peasy (half-life 20 days or so), venlafaxine horrendous (half-life just a few hours).

    With that one, I would feel rubbish if I was a couple of hours late on one dose! I have tended in the past to have bowel trouble on withdrawal, swinging one way then the other, itching, panic attacks, insomnia, fluey symptoms, crying jags and a general feeling of what I can only describe as aversion… That horrible sense of ‘oh no, I can’t bear this, get me my tablet RIGHT NOW!’

    That said, going very slowly, you do get there in the end and these hard-to-get-off medicines are also some of the most effective -and severe depression and anxiety can, in themselves, be a lot worse than the withdrawal. At least you know that withdrawal will end! The only thing I’ll miss about amitrip is the lovely feeling of going to bed being certain you’ll sleep.

    Wasn’t much cop as an anti-depressant for me personally. It was worth a try, failed that trial, but not a disaster as easy to stop, now onto something different. Ah well!

    • Robin Michelle Mackay August 20, 2016, 12:51 am

      Do you know what the half life of amitriptyline is?

  • Mandie August 2, 2016, 12:07 am

    I am so glad I found this article and comment thread now! I’ve only been taking 25mg of Amitriptyline for a few months now. Nerve damage and joint pain make it hard to sleep and the Amitriptyline helped. But I loathe taking prescription drugs, and accidentally forgot to take one one night. Decided not to take one the next, and then a third night… I’ve come down with a headache two days in a row now, with some nausea included.

    Reading this thread has me super scared, and I am so glad I have only been taking if for a few months now, and that it was a fairly low dose. Never again, will I allow any doctor to talk me into taking an anti-depressant, or quite possibly any other drug! Good luck to all! I hope everyone is successful at leaving this crap behind, and with as little difficulty as possible!

  • Jay July 27, 2016, 10:00 pm

    I have been on elavil for a while now I lost count I was taking it for headaches but it would make me really tired so I just stopped taking it. I really didn’t do any calculating on how long I have been off or anything but here recently I have been having stomach problems a little bit of itching I am now going through CT scans and ultrasounds to see if there is something wrong with my stomach BC I’m just so nauseous and my bowel movements have been everywhere. Do you think this is from discontinuing the medicine BC I didn’t slowly decrease?

    • Sunny August 1, 2016, 4:50 pm

      So, 8 weeks without and counting…the pool party/cookout was a raging success. My headaches have ramped-up a bit in the past week (3 so far) and I have had to take Imitrex because they will not go away. That’s a little disheartening. I’m still “trancey”…staring off into space a bit and still sleepy during the day. 2 months without…4 more to go? Sunny

    • Sunny August 11, 2016, 2:13 pm

      Hi Jay: How did all the tests go? I stopped taking the meds about 9 weeks ago and this week my stomach is a mess and my back won’t stop itching and my bathroom trips have increased. Sunny

  • Shelly July 27, 2016, 12:31 pm

    7/27/16. I am so angry at my dr right now. She told me to lower my 50 mg dose of amitriptyline to 25 for a few days then just stop taking it. She never told me when she prescribed it that there were adverse side effects that would potentially be worse than what was being treated. And she SURE didn’t tell me that I’d be THIS sick coming off of it.

    UGH!!! It’s been 17 days since my last dose. My pain has been worse these last 17 days than it’s ever been, and until reading the above article, I didn’t know that everything I’ve been experiencing was because I’d withdrawn the amitriptyline. I’m so ready to feel better. I was only on it for 4 months.

    I can’t imagine being on it for years and having to come off!! My heart goes out to all of you! God bless you!

  • Pete July 26, 2016, 4:07 pm

    I have been thinking I was seriously ill. Been on this drug… wait for it… 26 years. Started for many years on 100 mg. Took it down to 85mg where I stayed for many years. Doctors said it was going to be impossible to come off this yet as I age it is dangerous for heart health. So I started to lower from 85 mg down to 50 mg about 5 mg every month.

    Without thinking about it I started to feel very tired, could and still having trouble concentrating sometimes, feeling so fatigued and tired all the time. Kind of lost my mojo yet not flat nor tearful. I am so glad to read the other posts as I now know having had lots of tests as negative it must be the lowering of this drug. I will not give in to the reduction, and will stay on 50 mg for a few months then carry on slowly lowering again.

    Yes I will tell my GP what I am doing, yet wont be a slave to this drug. Exercising a lot, must say very relaxed mostly about life, only way forward for me is to rediscover my old self without drugs… P.S. to everyone. I was badly depressed in the past for a couple of years so this drug helped keep me going, I guess helped me stay alive. I don’t need it nor have for so many years now. Never say never… Pete :>)

  • Sunny July 26, 2016, 1:45 pm

    Hi Everyone: It has now been 7 weeks without the Amitriptyline. I am not having any horrible side effects, but I am still a zombie and I am still moody. It’s weird really… sometimes I look at my husband and wonder “what was I thinking:)”. I look at my grown children and wonder “are they always here?”… and the dogs… why do they feel the need to throw up grass on my floors?… and the big dog – he actually threw up on my couch… are you freakin kidding me?

    I’m a little sick of all of it… that’s the medicine talking. I know I love each of them, truly, madly, deeply. I am just less tolerant of their presumed helplessness (except the pups… they are very dear, 10% of the time). I’m sick of cooking, cleaning, working and listening to everybody’s crap… (a little moody?). I am proof that you can get past this medicine.

    It isn’t pretty and I don’t know if I will ever be myself, again, but at my age (55) who am I trying to impress, right? What’s next for me?…everyone is coming to my house on Sunday for a pool party/cookout (not my idea), and I can’t wait for it to be over! Hang in there… don’t go back on this medicine! I have read the withdraw symptoms can last 6 months after you stop taking the drug. WOW!

  • Sunny July 18, 2016, 7:58 pm

    Hi Everyone: It’s been 6 weeks since my last dose of Amitriptyline…I am still getting migraines a few times per week, but I can deal with most of them, without taking Imitrex. I do have mood swings, but they are slowly diminishing. I am still a zombie most of the time, but there are breaks in the fog. Maybe I just don’t feel like participating in everyone’s drama, maybe?

    I just don’t have the energy to care or even offer an opinion. The meds definitely made me very “trancey”, and that still remains. If I sit still too long, my head drops…what’s up with that? I do notice that I still don’t wind down for sleep in the evenings. As long as I keep moving, I don’t need sleep. I have to force myself to get into bed. I do take .25 mg. of Xanax, but it doesn’t always work.

    I can only assume the longer I go without the meds, the better I will feel…so far, there has not been a big change. Hang in there everyone. Sunny

    • Nancy July 28, 2016, 11:56 am

      I was on elavil 50mg for 15 years. Quit cold turkey. Horrible dreams and sleepless nights going on over 30 nights. Wake up scared. Not normal for me, at all. Praying for relief.

  • Josie July 12, 2016, 5:08 am

    Hi I have been off the amitriptyline for about 10 weeks now and have had some good days, lately, feeling like my old self but this last week depression has hit me like a brick. I have no interest in anything and crying most of the time. If this is normal after this length of time can someone tell me if this too will pass? Good luck to all who are trying to get their lives back again, I’m sure we will get there in the end.

  • Betty July 10, 2016, 4:03 am

    I want to thank everyone for sharing your withdrawal experiences. I started taking 25 mg about 10 years ago for anxiety associated with my hypothyroidism. At one point I was taking 50 mg, but decided to get off it for good this summer. I have tried to go off of it several times over the years, but nobody ever told me what withdrawal was like.

    When I would start experiencing anxiety again, I thought I needed to go back on the medication and did, not realizing that I was probably suffering withdrawal symptoms. Recently I discovered this site, and all your comments have helped prepare me so that I have been tapering off, but now realize the headaches, dizziness, anxious feelings, muscle aches and insomnia are all normal experiences of withdrawal.

    Although I don’t like the feelings, I think I am handling it well thanks to what I’ve read here. I’m able to step back from what my body is feeling and use positive self talk and prayer to get through. Thanks again, everyone.

  • MiNDYaBiZiNeSS July 5, 2016, 12:55 pm

    I never realized just how popular this medication was until reading all the comments here. I was first given elavil 30 years ago and it was part of a combination pill that contained amitriptyline (elavil) in fixed doses but the main medication/ingredient was called pherphenazine, AKA Etrafon, which is sometimes sold under the brand name Triavil. It can also be branded as Trilafon. I found the combination of these 2 medications extremely helpful but I hated the stigma that accompanied using medications like this.

    People who knew me also looked at me as someone who was not mentally well. Suffice to say, reputation was affected by this. I’ve come to the conclusion that during the time this medicine was becoming increasingly popular, in it’s beginnings, it was a time when pharmaceuticals in general were also becoming the answer when it came to the health and well being of Americans overall. I believe it was always the intention to find suitable medications but to keep people taking medicines regularly was being promoted as a way to properly maintain good health both mental and physical.

    However, the idea that only short term usage or a much lower consistent dosage was not as profitable so I still think the pharmaceutical revolution has made drug addicts out of a large portion of the population. I was one with severe issues that medication was the only way to tame the beast within me. Etrafon, a combination of elavil & trilafon, was the miracle drug for me at the time but daily usage caused a lot of problems. Sedated at work, sleep was more induced and waking up feeling so heavy.

    Dosage was strong for me even at 25mg but later I began to notice that if I just took the medication at the onset of symptoms, I was able to get my relief. I know it’s not helpful to everyone this way, but I do not like the way doctors push medicine for depression these days since it requires that we take it repeatedly as if it is designed to ensure we need more, and continue using it. Here’s my point.

    If I have a headache 11 or 12 times a month, and this is a consistent thing where daily stresses and life along with lifestyle lead to a headache more often for me than lets say, the average person. So I take something like ibuprofen and, the headache goes away. Now, what if a pharmaceutical company invents a pill that if, taken every day, once or perhaps twice daily, these headaches are prevented from even taking place. Is anyone getting where I am headed with this? Some have accused Pharmaceutical companies of many things over the years, mostly from a conspiracy theorist mentality, but I for one will support claims that they would push for the ongoing usage of medications daily as opposed to something taken AS NEEDED because it is more about the bottom line than anything else.

    The fear of dealing with the withdrawal symptoms from even non-narcotic medications is a real thing and I too had the worst time kicking 50mg of the Etrafon, which was 50mg amitriptyline and I think 8mg trilafon. The 25mg amitriptyline had 4mg of trilafon. I have to be honest, the trilafon was an amazing medicine even by itself in the 4mg and 8mg dosages for someone with extreme anxiety and for someone coming off of opiates. Anyway, I sit here today, 30 years later, with no ability to get etrafon anymore as I am told they do not make it.

    But I can get trilafon by itself and a amitriptyline by itself. I like having both of these medications on hand. It creates a certain level of comfort that actually eases my stress. These medications treat my anxiety and depression symptoms quickly. Not like all the so called miracle drugs that doctors claim we must take for 3-5 weeks before noticing the effects. How on earth does it make sense to do that? What if the medicine they are pushing ends up not working?

    SO I just wasted 3-5 weeks of my time and my money to end up with a dud? No thank you. Taking amitriptyline and/or trilafon will either work or it won’t, it is very cheap to buy and if it works for you, it is known rather soon after beginning treatment with it. None of this 3-5 weeks crap. These days I never take the trilafon but I will resort to elavil from time to time. But still, not every day. Only when I feel related symptoms that indicate I am about to have a panic attack or if I notice gradual bouts of depression that are creeping in over time.

    It’s not always easy to do it this ay and doctors are not able to baby sit us to see how we change day to day or if we are stable. So, most times I find we must be in tune with our own mental and physical health, which most people like us are. We see comments talking about the woes of taking medicines and our experiences how it affects us. We are aware of what it is or is not doing whether taking it or trying to stop taking it.

    So I will just say it… Taking medications daily is a money making agenda and there are likely other options both natural and medical that can treat and manage mental and physical health concerns without having to fall into that agenda. I take elavil as needed. I break my 50mg tablet into 4 pieces with a pill cutter and rarely do I need to take more than 1 of those 12.5mg pieces. Furthermore, I rarely need to take it more than a few times monthly.

    Sometimes I’ve taken it 2-3 times in the same week as situations do vary. But my point is, maybe looking at the whole picture with the understanding that maybe doctors are not always the best at choosing a regimen as they are part of the circle that is operating within the pharmaceutical arena. They will make sure to follow guidelines that prevent risk to our well being while prescribing our treatment but you can bet their agenda also involves money and pharmaceutical companies have a strong influence over these things.

    I have even read where doctors will be prescribing a specific blood pressure medication more often than other options to their patient base because the company that made that medication was giving them big kickbacks. I was inpatient at a hospital once because I took a break from all medications and it caught up to me. I needed treatment for my depression and anxiety after not taking any medication for a long span of time and the doctors that came to the room were not even willing to give me the medications I knew worked which were amitriptyline and trilafon.

    They were forcing me to change to these stupid new medications like lexapro and I freaked out after the first dose. These so called newer type mental health agendas are trying to push us away from medications like elavil because we an get it so cheap and it just works. They want the money and getting 1 pill of the Lexipro at that time worked out to be over $7 each pill. I can get 60 pills of elavil for $4 as long as the doctor says I need 2 pills daily.

    It’s basically a 30 day supply of elavil costs $4 but I cannot get Lexapro or other similar types of medicines for a low price like that. This is the point that bothers me most and I am sure it bothers others too. I know a lot of comments here talk about the amitriptyline, side effect, and withdrawl etc. Of course I am an advocate for anyone who would be able to stop taking these meds as this can be the best answer if it does not create worst problems.

    But the fact we have amitriptyline as an option is something to be grateful for when you think about how pharmaceutical companies have been selling newer medicines for 10 times the cost. And the fact that they claim these new medications are better is not even something they can prove since amitriptyline has been around since the early 1960s with a proven track record. If we could reduce gradually and eventually stop taking these meds, thats the best scenario.

    But if we have to take them, the least amount possible to do the job is sometimes better than having to take a dosage the doctor says wem ust take every day. We might know better than the doctor and trying to adjust our dose to suit our own personal situation is likely going to reveal that we know what is best for our own mind/body

  • Sisyphus June 29, 2016, 2:21 am

    I am taking 50 m.g. Mental Health Daily advise titration should be: 10% less per month. How is that possible with a coated pill, i.e. I should take 45 mg the first month of titration, 40.5 mg the second month, 35.45 mg the third month of titration, etc.? The next lower dosage apart from 50.mg. is 25 m.g.

    • Sunny July 19, 2016, 7:54 pm

      I have heard it does come in a liquid, but I think you can be a little creative and loose with the 10%…I was taking 25 mg, I cut to 12.5 mg, then to 10 mg, then to 5 mg, then to 2.5’ish mg, then 2.5’ish mg every other night, then done. (I actually cut the tiny 10 mg pill into quarters). The key is to stay at each reduced dose for a longer period… I stayed at each reduced dose 6-8 weeks, sometimes 10 weeks, never less than 6 weeks.

  • Lorna June 28, 2016, 6:57 pm

    I have been on 25 mg for about 10 years for interstitial cystitis. About 18 months ago I began having some blurred vision. I went to my optometrist and then to an ophthalmologist, but they could see no evidence of any eye disease or problems. I am now considering stopping the amitriptyline to see if that helps. Has anyone ever experienced blurred vision, and does it go away after stopping the drug?

  • P. Temple June 26, 2016, 6:01 am

    This drug, was given to me 26yrs ago for fibromyalgia, migraines, and insomnia. Do not quit all at once!!!! If on this for so long at 150mg a night! Humana stopped my med, a and I began to get sicker and sicker, terrible zaps and dizziness in my head, painful muscle aches, nauseous, unbalanced, diarrhea, and horrible insomnia!!! I got an emergency supply, and my doctor gave me 10mg tablets try to slow or bring up the dose, and lower at a slower pace, but still have all the symptoms. Having problems with my balance is the worst, for my husband, no fancy cooking right now. BE CAREFUL GETTING OFF THIS DRUG!!!!

    • Sunny July 19, 2016, 7:59 pm

      I’m not sure if the medicine is expensive…I don’t think so, it has been around forever. Maybe you can afford to pay for it without your insurance, at least long enough to properly reduce your dose. 150 mg is too high to quit cold turkey. I would think it is inhumane to deny someone the medicine they need or to cut off the supply of a medicine that requires weaning, not cold turkey. Hang in there and ask questions.

  • Sunny June 22, 2016, 7:56 pm

    Hi Everyone. It has been 2 weeks since my last 2.5 mg. dose. I don’t notice anything awful. I lowered my dose super slowly over a period of several months. I did spend 6-8 weeks at each reduced dose and finally made it to 2.5 mg every-other night for 2 months and now…NONE!!!! I am a little irritable at times, but it passes. My migraines are more frequent, but most are low-grade.

    I finally stopped craving ice cream…looking for my waistline. Exercise makes me feel better (walking DVDs and yoga DVDs in my living room). I do sit at a desk for my job, but once I get home, I do not sit down…I am constantly in motion. The only way I sleep is by taking .25 mg. xanax. I know its because of the withdraw. Many have said their sleep is interrupted. I could easily stay up all night.

    I am still waiting for the “ugly period”…maybe it won’t happen. I believe the key to getting off this medicine is to taper the dose ridiculously slow…I was at 25 mg, I cut them in half (12.5 mg.) for 2 months, then I stepped down to 10 mg. for 2 months, then I stepped down to 5 mg. for 2 months, then 2.5 mg. for 2 months, then 2.5 mg. every-other night for 2 months.

    I can’t believe how long it has taken to get of this medicine, about 10 months. I’ll check back next week. Stay determined if you can.

  • Josie June 17, 2016, 8:39 am

    Hi. I’m into week 6 now and feeling easier in some of the evenings which is good to get a few things sorted at home! The mornings are a different matter, depressed, unable to think straight, or at all… very painful muscles in my back which stop me doing too much walking, which I love. On a good day and not too much pain I think the `tunnel` is showing just a tad of light. Please everyone continue to press on however slow, and we will get there in the end. Best wishes to all.

  • Sunny June 16, 2016, 5:30 pm

    Hi Everyone: I took my last 2.5 mg. piece last Tuesday, June 7 (remember, I was taking 2.5 mg. every-other night for a few months)…side effects so far… low-grade migraines every day…tolerable; increased irritability… I don’t mind it:); nervous stomach some days…maybe I’ll lose the last pesky pound or two.

    It has only been 1 week. I know things will deteriorate next week…week 2 seems to be the start of the ugly period. I am doing yoga every night (in my living room with a DVD) and I am stopping at Dunkin for a decaf iced coffee with cream and fake sugar on my way home from work each day… a cigarette would be better, but I gave those up 3 years ago… still miss them terribly!!!!

    I am still listening to books on tape in my car and at my desk…it helps to focus on something other than myself and how I am feeling. I am still making lists of things that need to be done. I tackle a few of them each evening.

    I’ll check back next week…hopefully doing better than expected! Hang in there!!!

  • Gerri Pidgeon June 13, 2016, 5:55 am

    I was on amitriptyline 300mg at night, for 24 years, because I was very depressed, I had lost a lot of weight, and I couldn’t sleep, due to personal issues, and injury, causing chronic pain. I’m at present on tapering off, I’m down to 100mg at night, I chose tapering after having tried cold turkey, and only becoming very ill. I chose to reduce by no more then 25mg per month. This is working, tho I still am getting a lot of withdrawal symptoms, I will get off them. I encourage everyone to persist. Thank you.

  • Mitch June 12, 2016, 7:18 am

    I was taking 100mg a night for about 4 years. After talking to my doctor I weaned myself off completely in 2 weeks. This is the second night without the meds and it is somewhat unpleasant. I am already noticing most of the withdrawal symptoms.

    I’m a 26 year old male weighing 289lbs and was taking Amitriptyline for my chronic migraines. I will try to update as things go in hopes of providing others with the information they want.

  • Sunny June 8, 2016, 7:20 pm

    Hi All: The family celebrations are over and it is time for me to actually stop taking this medicine. I have cut down to 2.5 mg. every-other night for a few months…waiting for the celebrations to end. I know the side effects will take 2 weeks to show and I am dreading them, but I can’t wait to get my life back. I took my last dose on Tuesday…very scared…fingers crossed.

    Remember, exercise will help with the withdraw and don’t sit around thinking about your symptoms. Stay busy. Make lists, clean stuff, take the dog for a walk, and when you feel like you are going to lose it…check back with this site and read…you are not alone!

  • Carolyn June 7, 2016, 5:23 pm

    I’ve been on amitriptyline for one month, stopped cold turkey two nights ago. Reason terrible hunger, bad anxiety, gagging, needing to swallow all the time. I was taking 25mg for sleep, didn’t help. Did anyone else experience these symptoms? I’m already having side effects from stopping.

    • Mandie August 2, 2016, 12:16 am

      I just stopped cold turkey about 3 days ago. I was only on it for a few months, and I was also taking 25mg for sleep. I didn’t realize I was having any issues while taking it. I did have a day or two where I had an itchy throat tickle thing, that caused me to clear my throat a lot. And yes, I was ALWAYS hungry, but really didn’t attribute it to the drug until reading this thread. I’m so glad I wasn’t on it very long.

      I have been getting headaches with some nausea for the last couple days, but thankfully, those symptoms go away within a couple hours and I feel normal for most of the day. I hope both of our withdrawals go away quickly since we were both on it for a relatively short time! Good luck Carolyn!

  • Tricia June 5, 2016, 10:03 am

    I start taking 10 mg daily six months ago for migraine. About a month ago I started getting migraines daily and severe joint pain. I could hardly walk up the stairs. I felt weak in my legs, and I thought I had flu coming. I was horrified that such a small amount could cause this. So it was decision time.

    If I went to the doctor, I would probably be told to up the dose, but where does that end? Or I could stop now I decided to stop now! That was 2 weeks ago. The migraines are every day now, but gradually improving. My aches and pains are really getting me down but that is improving. I bought some Jointace tablets to try and help.

    I joined a Pilates class and try to go for a short walk every day, even if I don’t feel like it. This is my body and I will preserve it. I know it will get better. Stay strong everyone out there. You have lived without amitriptyline in your life, you can do it again.

    • Sunny June 16, 2016, 6:05 pm

      Thanks for the info Tricia. It’s nice to hear your headaches are improving a little.

  • Josie June 4, 2016, 11:45 am

    Hi Been off the tablets for 4 weeks now and still feel very depressed and Zombie like on waking but around lunchtime start to feel a little easier and almost normalish in evening. My back and muscle pain don’t help. Will keep going forwards, as we all are trying to do. It’s hard but we WILL make it in the end.

    • Susan June 9, 2016, 4:24 pm

      I, too, usually feel better in the afternoons and evenings! Isn’t that weird? Wonder why. It’s a wonderful reprieve, an oasis in the misery.

    • Katie June 9, 2016, 5:12 pm

      Hi Josie, Hope you are doing OK. Keep focusing on the positives – there are more and more of them to look forward to as time goes on.

      • Josie June 10, 2016, 8:46 am

        Hi Katie thanks for that. 5th week now and very depressed last few days have been awful. No concentration at all. I’m trying to keep busy and hope this symptom will go very soon! Everyone in the same boat so we all must keep going.

  • Matthew Ives June 1, 2016, 2:48 pm

    Wow cant believe how much your comments resonate with me. I’ve been on 10/20 mg for the past 5 years. About a month ago I cut down to 5mg then 5 days ago came off altogether. Not feeling 100% now, nausea, slight headache and gurgly tummy. I was prescribed them for IBS specifically but like another poster I too have been having issues with short term memory loss and feeling like a zombie most days.

    I can cope with these symptoms but really hoping they done get any worse. Has anyone actually got off amitriptyline completely and no longer suffering side effects?

  • Susan May 28, 2016, 2:56 am

    I was on 50 mg. at bedtime for about 3-4 years to prevent chronic migraines and for insomnia. I went off because I read about a study that it may cause dementia in older people. My short-term memory was getting bad, not sure if that’s why. Doc had me cut down to 25 mg. for one week, while starting neurontin. The neurontin gave me sort of mini-strokes, so I stopped it. Half a week after ending the Amitrityline, I got the runs.

    Imodium would only help for a day, and then it would start again. I lost my appetite and stopped sleeping. I was chilled but felt feverish. My nose runs a lot. For two days and nights I was only able to sleep from about 5-9 a.m. I couldn’t stand to feel the touch of skin-to-skin, like had to wear pj’s instead of a nightgown. I’ve been very nauseous off & on, and have lost about 10 pounds.

    I did a stool sample to see if I had geardia or something, but it was negative, so I thought it must be viral. The scariest part was what this article calls “depersonalization.” It was like the dementors in Harry Potter. Thank goodness that only lasted about 2 days! It’s been two weeks now. I had diarrhea 3 times this morning and felt nauseous. The doc gave me ondansetron for nausea (not sure if it helps) and diphenoxylate for diarrhea.

    Feeling better this afternoon & evening. I FINALLY googled the withdrawal symptoms today. Bingo. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I had really bad headaches. My triptan drugs usually helped, or sometimes Advil.

    • Susan June 9, 2016, 4:18 pm

      Update: The diphenoxylate doesn’t work any better than the Imodium did: still have diarrhea & feeling nauseous every morning. Still have nights of no sleep till morning, feeling like a zombie. Still very little appetite. Still have restless legs and skin sensitivity. One night I slept after taking a time-release 6 mg. melatonin, but I read how melatonin is a hormone and best avoided, plus it made me groggy the next day.

      Regular melatonin did nothing. One other night I slept after taking the dog on a very long hike, so maybe I’ll have to do that more often. Got a sleep sound machine, which helps a bit. Considering canceling vacation plans for July. Boo! At least I’m retired! I can’t imagine going through this while working!

      • Susan June 20, 2016, 2:54 pm

        I’m all better! Yay! My doctor figured out that the magnesium I take to prevent migraines was what was causing the diarrhea. The Amitriptyline was constipating, it seems, so counteracted the magnesium effect. I cut way back on the magnesium, and that stopped the diarrhea immediately. I still have trouble sleeping sometimes, but that’s why I took the Amitriptyline in the first place. So far, migraines don’t seem more frequent.

  • Josie May 27, 2016, 8:06 am

    Thanks for all your comments it is reassuring to know that these horrid feelings will eventually pass… I was about to go back on the tablets after a few really bad days but now I will keep positive and look forward. Thanks to everyone for their stories.

  • Erika May 26, 2016, 2:08 am

    I was on 225 mg for 2 years. & I found it to be helpful. I recently suffered a nervous breakdown & was hospitalized @ a mental hospital for a week. The Doctor at the hospital threw out my meds & lowered my dosages drastically. I haven’t been feeling like myself. Sick, suicidal, & I’m really afraid that by messing with my meds they made my situation worse! Idk what to do?

  • Patti May 23, 2016, 4:13 pm

    Hi, I am 67 years old, been on this drug for 30 years, I have had insomnia since I was a child. I was taking 50 mg for the last 10 or so years at night, my doctor told me to take 100mg for I was still having sleep problems. Little did I know that he higher dose would cause me extreme chapped and painful blisters on my lips along with very dry mouth.

    I was going to go cold turkey and I am on day 4, it is very hard. No sleep for 2 nights – headaches, heart beating fast and my blood pressure is up so I am going to take a half a dose today and try to wean off soon. I also had weight gain. I think I am going to pretend I am in the 1970’s and start smoking weed again…

    I got my license, so let’s see how this works-I also will try some Melatonin some nights as well. Thank you to all of you for reading all of this has really helped me to try harder and understand what I will go thru. Sincerely Patti

  • Hamish May 23, 2016, 10:44 am

    I have found this website discussion very helpful. I had been on a daily dose of 25 mg on and off for 25 years or so, then three years without a break. I stopped taking it when I moved to a less stressful occupation. I don’t blame my doctor for prescribing it because I definitely needed something to help me cope with a very demanding job.

    I didn’t like taking it because of the side-effects, principally panic disorder and other symptoms like blurry vision and dryness of the mouth, but it generally helped lower stress levels. What I think is important to know is that the withdrawal symptoms can go on for a lot longer than you might imagine. I would say you need a good six months.

    Initially I had nightmares for a couple of weeks but then things seemed to be OK for six weeks or so – I can see now that that was the ‘honeymoon period’ that people have mentioned on this website. Suddenly in the third month I was hit by a number of severe symptoms much worse than the symptoms I had had in the first place – splitting headaches, retching, vomiting, and stomach cramps, and these lasted all day and into the night, which was plagued by insomnia.

    Total lack of confidence and inexplicably high stress levels. I was traveling at the time, which did not help matters, and my doctor had retired. Perhaps I should have returned to amitriptyline at that point and tapered off the dosage, but I decided to battle it out. I dealt with the headaches with panadeine, as I found aspirin had no effect. I did try valerian capsules as suggested here but didn’t like the feeling of being drugged.

    I thought that was too much like being back on amitriptyline again. Bananas at breakfast time helped, as did ginger in various forms, but the most useful thing was exercise, like brisk walks in the morning. The worst month was definitely the third. In the fourth month the retching symptom was reduced, though the annoying feeling that there was something stuck in your throat, as has also been mentioned here, largely remained.

    Waking up in the early hours (2 or 3 am or even earlier – I’m lucky I have a wife who enjoys early morning discussions) gave way to 6-hour sleeps in the fifth month. Somehow though all of this I forced myself to do everything I needed to do and kept all my appointments – the lack of sleep didn’t have as great an effect on me as I had thought.

    I would say the main thing is to be patient – it’s a good 6-month process. And it’s important not to confuse withdrawal symptoms with a relapse. I originally thought I’d gone back twenty-five years but to much worse symptoms.

    It must be tempting to return to taking amitriptyline because the withdrawal symptoms seem so much worse than the side effects, but I’m convinced that once you’re through the worst you’re much better off without it. I have to be careful with caffeine carbonated drinks – they tend to trigger the retching symptom. But apart from that there seems to be a big improvement in the fifth month.

  • josie May 22, 2016, 1:50 pm

    Hi I’m now on my 3rd week of no Amytriptyline. Not feeling so nausea but very spaced out, don’t want to do anything and very down in the mornings. Have been ringing the Samaritans in the mornings and found that helps. Hope I will feel better soon hate all this. Good Luck to all of you.

  • Carole May 16, 2016, 11:46 pm

    I actually had an operation came out of hospital and lost my pack of amitriptyline 25 mg. I had been on these tablets for 2 years due to painful hips. The chemist got it wrong to so it ended up 4 days cold turkey. I’ve had really bad itching, short tempered, sleeping at weird times except at night.

    But now I have gone 4 days I may as well keep going cold turkey. I’m also on Morphine for pain to and I’m going to stop that but gradually to stop all my drugs and be drug free. It is hard but I’m going to do it, I’m determined!!!

    • Sunny May 17, 2016, 5:19 pm

      Be careful, Carole; the withdrawal side effects don’t hit their stride for 2+ weeks. If you find yourself really struggling, remember, it’s just the withdrawal. Maybe you will get lucky and the morphine you are taking will dull the withdraw symptoms from the amitriptyline… fingers crossed.

  • Carol Ward May 15, 2016, 12:54 am

    I have been on amitriptyline for chronic migraines for over 20 years, 150 mg for most of them then tapered down to 75 mg in last 10 years. About 10 years ago it seemed to stop helping the migraines so my journey began to try and find something else to replace it. It has been total hell for me. I lost my job, stay inside most of the time, suffer terribly with migraines & have all of the withdrawal symptoms & more.

    The lowest I got down to was 30 mg & I was in the hospital at the time & they couldn’t help me with the withdrawals so I had to go back up. I can’t find any other migraine drug combination to help me with my headaches & amitriptyline barely helps. I hate the way I feel on amitriptyline & I can’t tolerate not being on it. Has anyone found a good crossover drug?

    • Sunny May 17, 2016, 5:36 pm

      Oh, Carol, I feel horrible for you…you are really struggling. Amitriptyline will make you feel horrible, emotionally and physically. I, too, suffer from chronic migraines, sometimes 5 in a week. The amitriptyline knocked that number down to 4, big whoop, right? For me, the most important thing was to find the trigger for the migraines.

      Everything has to be fragrance-free. I gave up caffeine, cocoa, alcohol, beans, meat, citrus, yeast breads, bananas, red plums, dried fruits, aged cheeses, whole milk, artificial sweeteners, anything pickled, and the list goes on. It works! I now get maybe 2 headaches per week and there have been entire weeks where I get none.

      The weather (barometric pressure) also affects me, as does my workplace (12 women/12 different perfumes/all floral). I shove Vick’s vapo-rub up my nose, I have a fan at my desk and I have earphones in with books on tape. You have to find your headache triggers, you just have to!

  • Shannon May 14, 2016, 5:34 pm

    I couldn’t figure out why I was so sick when suddenly I decided to google the question and now it all make sense. I thought it was the flu except it would come and go. When it goes I feel like I was never sick but it returns without warning and with a punch. Advil takes the edge off the headache but does not completely fix it.

    I’m on zofran for another medical issue and it does even touch the nausea but has slowed down the actual throwing up part but oddly it felt kind of better when I was. I have slept 1 hour & 15 minutes in 3 days and I’m definitely not hungry. I was on 100mg for over a year and gained 60lbs that I’ve already lost 3 of but not surprise with how sick I feel.

    Just missing the diarrhea at this point but I also have IBS w/ C currently (I feel gurgly tho). I will be so glad when I feel well again and even happier when I get this weight OFF!!

  • Sarah May 12, 2016, 3:22 am

    Just giving an update on my progress. To recap: I was on amitriptyline for 35 years, usually a dosage of 12.5 to 25 mg. I did a cold turkey jump off 12.5 mg. then had to reinstate at .5 mg. due to stomach issues. I’ve been doing a slow taper and am currently on .25 mg (titrating my dose in water). I’m doing very well and my sleep seems to have finally normalized after a couple of months. I expect to be off soon, but no hurry…

    I highly recommend reinstating at a low dose (try 1-2mg) if you are having terrible withdrawal symptoms. Even that low dose is often enough to head them off, and you aren’t losing much ground. You can cut a 10 mg. pill in 1/4s with a pill cutter for a dosage of 2.5 mg. Any lower will probably need a liquid titration or a custom compounded liquid medication.

  • jessica mamnoliti April 30, 2016, 11:58 am

    Hi I have been taking Endep 10mg for the last year and half then went to 5mg for the last few months with my doctor’s guidance. Then a few days he said I can stop taking it and I have but the thing is lately I’ve been feeling as if I’m “high” and cannot stop laughing (don’t know why). Is this a normal withdrawal symptom? Please help!

    • josie May 4, 2016, 8:30 am

      Hi. I’ve decided to finish my ‘slither’ of Amy as I missed a couple of days. I feel depressed, especially in the morning, crying nausea, very sore muscles, anxious and also want to be left alone I new this would happen as I have tried to come off it before. I have lots of friends some know how I feel and are very good but I still feel totally alone.

      I get out every day which does help but I am going to do this and be patient as I’m sure time heels. Good luck to everyone, hang in there and I’m sure we will make it. Thank you Sunny for your comments they are a great help to me and I’m sure many others.

  • Sunny April 27, 2016, 6:17 pm

    Hi Samantha: I thing you are moving too fast in the step-down process. I have read much and it appears the taper should be super-gradual, like 10% per step-down. I started this medicine in September 2014 for migraines and have now spent more time trying to get off of it, than I spent on it. I have had all the withdraw symptoms, too and I even spend a few days actually crying (alone), each time I reduce the dose.

    I know it is my central nervous system trying to adjust to the change. I am fighting to give my body some control back…this medicine alters our body’s natural reactions. Knowing why I feel horrible helps me keep going. I am currently taking 2.5 mg. every-other day and am terrified to stop. I also spend about 6-8 weeks at each reduced dose, which helps. I still have the side effects but I’m sure they are less severe than if I were to make a drastic cut.

    Try to be patient and find something you enjoy… I like reading and I even listen to books on tape at my desk and in my car. I also use exercise tapes and try to follow a 30 minute workout routine several times per week. I think it’s better not to dwell on how we are feeling every minute of every day. I have a “to-do” list and I try to stay on task. Good luck and hang in there. Please be kind to yourself… this drug is tough to kick.

  • Samantha April 25, 2016, 11:50 pm

    I have been taking this medication for about 4.5 years, originally for restless legs at night but then in combination with Cymbalta for depression; I take 100mg at night. Last year I felt that I was ready to start coming off antidepressants and so I started with amitriptyline but after about 3 weeks of cutting the dose in half my depression relapsed and I immediately went right back to 100mg at night.

    Fast-forward to present time – I met with a sleep specialist 2 weeks ago to sort out my lifelong history of nightmares, terrors, sleep paralysis, and falling asleep at inappropriate times and she recommended I titrate off amitrip as it is a REM-suppressant… I started with 75mg for 1 week and now I’m down to 50mg and my depression is getting worse by the day. I feel extremely flat, lifeless, lethargic, unmotivated, and defeated – just like how I felt a year ago when I tried a more drastic taper.

    My point to the story is that I hate how I am feeling and I’m afraid it is going to keep getting worse. How long with this go on before I feel “normal” again? The depression is beginning to interfere with almost every aspect of my life. I’m going through almost all of the withdrawal symptoms listed in this article, it is unbelievable!

    Somebody please give me advice on how to stay strong and endure this psychological torture without completely relapsing and wishing myself away into the shadows!

  • Cindy L Fischer April 22, 2016, 11:22 pm

    Been on 20mg for 6 months, and I’m tapering off. Weight gain, and constant fatigue. How long do I need to be off of it before tanning? Miss sleeping good at night, but cannot continue to feel like a zombie. Melatonin here I come.

  • Ruby April 18, 2016, 2:42 pm

    I am currently on day 8 of being without the drug. I have been on 150mg for about 11 years for migraines. We reduced my dosage by 25 mg every 2 weeks, the last 2 weeks having been messed up because the pharmacist didn’t give me enough pills – ‘I was so out of it that I thought I had miscalculated my dosages, not the pharmacist, and have been suffering.

    This is the worst! Headache, insomnia, nausea with vomiting and therefore lack of appetite , hypersensitivity, dizziness, fatigue, losing weight, and diarrhea. I had to call in sick to work that I am still on 3 month probation, can’t sit in a car or smell off-putting things, can’t brush my teeth properly or hold long conversation with someone without gagging and/or vomiting.

    I haven’t even mentioned the anxiety or the depression! I just want to be able to cry out “make it stop!” And just have it stop…

    • Ruby April 18, 2016, 2:45 pm

      Sorry, to clarify, the pharmacist had given me the wrong dosage, but I was so out of it that I thought I had made the mistake and didn’t speak to anyone about it, which may have made everything worse.

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