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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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  • David October 4, 2018, 3:59 pm

    Thank you for this website. I found this report so helpful when I was getting no support from my GP. I took Amitriptyline 10mg for three months to treat a bladder complaint. I was assured it was absolutely safe and I could stop at any time. Well after three months my condition had improved and I decided to stop, after all this is the lowest dose available on prescription from the UK NHS.

    After three days off the pills my problems started. I could not sleep, I had flu like symptoms, severe headaches particularly at night and after two weeks was waking up with panic attacks. I went to the GP who told me this drug was extremely safe and now that I had stopped and was getting headaches then the drug must of been masking a hidden headache problem.

    So after numerous blood test and then a clear scan for a brain tumour he declared that I was probably depressed and should take more of the drug. Fortunately I found this website and a pharmacist who advised me never to stop Amitriptyline suddenly.

    So after six weeks of horror I went back on to 10mg and started to reduce the dosage slowly. All this against the doctors advice which made it more challenging. It has taken me four months to completely come off the drug. I resorted to cutting up the tablet using a pill cutter and electronic scales from Amazon.

    I reduced to 7.5mg then 5mg and then 2.5mg every three to four weeks. The first two reductions were relatively straight forward but as it got lower the drops became harder with headaches at night being the biggest challenge. I then dropped to around 1.25mg and once stable took this every other day for two weeks before stopping all together.

    I’m not a patient person so at times I tried to drop too quickly. My advice is be patient keep working at it and never go back to a higher dose. What has surprised me is how widespread the use of this drug is. Eventually I saw a neurologist who described it as an ugly drug.

    It did assist my condition but to create a dependency so quickly and on such as low dose is really scary. The other thing that happened was that it really affected my memory when taking it. I couldn’t remember people’s names and this was embarrassing.

    So in summary – be patient, you know your own body and you will get off it. I really hope this helps someone as this has been a horrible experience for me with little support.

  • Colin September 26, 2018, 7:08 pm

    So glad to have come across the site. Started taking Ami for headaches 18 Months ago, no real side affects whilst on it except for a very dry mouth.

    18 months on I decided the Ami wasn’t helping enough to justify taking it. First few days off it I felt really well, then bang… all the symptoms others have described, very lightheaded, dizzy and feeling sick but also terrible pulsating tinnitus in my ears at night preventing me from getting any sleep.

    I was up to 75mg a day when I came off it ( cold turkey which I now realize was the worst. possible thing I could have done). Discussed all this with the GP who dismissed it all. :( Really not sure if I should plough (it’s been 10 days) or go back on it and taper down. Either option sucks. :(

  • Mike September 25, 2018, 1:59 am

    Hi Everyone, my situation is not ‘long term’, but I feel it is worth sharing. A month ago my ‘wake up have 2 coffees a day, don’t eat until lunchtime, have a few bourbons at night (with coke) + being a very intense person particularly on the road’ (road rage type stuff) finally caught up to me.

    I had one angry outburst too many and all of a sudden I had bad heart palpitations. I got the odd one here and there maybe once a week but all of a sudden I had about 50 in 5 minutes. This died down, but then flared up later in the day when my young daughter tested my sanity with bad behavior.

    Long story short I ended up in ED after another few hundred palpitations. I am 36 and have lived a very sporty life, however also have dabbled in recreational drugs in my past and had been a regular pot smoker up until this moment.

    Once this happened, I developed very bad anxiety that the heart issue will come back and get worse etc. I had never had anxiety before and I now truly understand how crippling it can be. I rested for 2 days, after being told that structurally my heart is fine after ECG and chest Xrays.

    I went to my doctors, who prescribed Amitriptyline 10mg. It worked wonders for my Anxiety, my chest instantly felt relaxed after taking it and I could sleep. I went back to work (I have a lawn mowing business). This failed miserably and I did half a days work before giving up as the heart would play up anytime I cooled down after a job.

    I was to take 10mg only at night, but took one the following morning and I was able to work with around 20 moments with my heart instead of 100. Now… after a few days of working on the stuff and feeling much better about my situation I thought best to try and get off the stuff as I don’t want to be dependent and my Anxiety was only due to the heart beat issue.

    The heart issue seemed to me to be from self inflicted stupidity with bad diet/stressing over nothing and lifestyle etc which I have now stopped. No Caffeine/Pot/alcohol and eating healthier. So I would have been on this stuff for about 10 days at this stage, 10 mg at night and 3 times 10mg in the morning when I worked.

    Getting off has been an absolute nightmare. 2 steps forward 1.8 steps back it feels. I just can’t sleep properly at all, my heart races at times in the night for no reason, and last night I had one horrific moment where my chest went heavy for a few seconds, I felt for my pulse which was not there, and then suddenly BOOM my heart kicked into gear again.

    My poo’s are a horrid green colour, I am struggling to hold weight and am now skinnier than I have been since I was a teenager. It is 4-5 days since my last pill. I am annoyed that my doctor gave me this particular medication as now I have looked up things that shouldn’t be mixed with this drug, having an irregular heartbeat is one of them.

    I’m hoping things STAY improved but I am not holding my breath I had a clear day 2 days ago, not a single heart palpitation and I thought that was it, I’m clear and can relax and be back to normal, then last night was one of my worst nights. This stuff seems incredibly terrible and my doctor even said ‘they are not addictive’!??!

    Oh they are not addictive, just catastrophic to stop taking once you get reliant?! My life is relaxed now and I truly appreciate so much more, I want to be here for my young kids and my wife for many years but a mix of stupidity with how I have lived (being such a hothead at times), and now this medication and the effects coming off of it are really making me fear for my future.

    I feel for anyone coming off of it and like I’ve said, I was only on it for just over a week…

  • Heather September 24, 2018, 6:06 am

    Has anyone done titrating down by 25mg? My doctor has advised titrating from 75mg to 50mg, to 25mg – AND THEN to take 25mg daily plus start Cymbalta daily (as the new “takeover medication”) for a week. Just wondering how withdrawal symptoms went if you replace Amitrip with another anti-anxiety med? I’ve been having withdrawal symptoms just going from 75mg to 50mg, and my docs prescription is for increments of 25mg…

  • Gail September 22, 2018, 6:24 pm

    After 7 years on 50 mg a night, I slowly lowered the dosage and 2.5 weeks ago came of of them all together. Since 1.5 ago all hell has broken loose – suffering from terrible nausea all day long along with hunger. When I eat I feel nausea so it’s a terrible circle. How long will this last?

  • Rita September 21, 2018, 4:12 pm

    I just wanted everyone to know that it is a long haul, but it is worth the suffering to be off of Ami. I was tempted to go back on it cause I was feeling just terrible, but I persevered and I am sure glad that I did! There is light at the end of the tunnel!!

  • Rosa September 19, 2018, 6:13 pm

    I had been on Ami for over 19 years was prescribed them for sleeping and back pain. Took a daily dose of 50mg. I decided back in May to reduce dosage as there had been a lot of news about staying on them long-term could cause dementia and I am nearing middle age.

    Reduced them down over a few weeks but have not had a full nights sleep since May. I also have nights when my whole body itches and I get restless leg syndrome. But I am determined to keep going and hopefully eventually everything will go back to normal.

  • Cindy September 19, 2018, 2:30 pm

    I first went on Ami in 1983. At the peak I was at 200 but have gradually tapered down to about 15 mg. I have been stuck at 15 for about 3 years as the withdrawal symptoms are so intense. I literally hurt from head to toe. I have had all the symptoms listed above but I do not want to give up.

    I plan to make another run at taking 10 mg and hope I can stick there. The other side effect I get upon withdrawal is rapid heartbeat and a feeling of being really juiced up. I lay in bed with my head pounding.

    It really scared me until I realized what it was. It passes after a couple of weeks. Anyway I would accept any prayers for healing. :-)

  • Esther September 18, 2018, 6:59 am

    How long does it last? Forever. I was put on them for TMJ (jaw nerve/muscle pain) in 2013 and they worked great. I was really tired and my memory was shot, but the horrible pain was gone. Years later and I gained weight, my teeth were decaying, hair falling out and I wanted to stop.

    Thats over 2 years ago now. I tapered really slow as I had all the withdrawal symptoms above. And the muscle tightness the withdrawal caused made my pain (temporarily) worse each time I went down a bit.

    What I did was, first from 25 to 20 (which was really difficult) and then started to taper gradually. Until I had to grind down 10mg tablets and put them into capsules (you can buy them online). At first I also did a small amount 3x a day. I found that much easier to stave off the withdrawal symptoms than taking less 1x a day.

    I’m now at some minuscule crumbs every 60 hours, and can taper faster now. Think in a few weeks I’ll be off them for good. Finally. I’ve lost weight, my teeth haven’t had cavities for a year, and I’m usually without pain as well. It’s hard, but there is light at the end of the tunnel!

  • Chris September 12, 2018, 12:00 pm

    I have been taking 75mg for a little over 4 years. I was a prescribed a tapering routine to get off of it. Let’s just say I can’t sleep but I’m exhausted, I’m dizzy, irritable, my head has been pounding for 7 days straight.

    I feel like my brain wants to jump out of my skull so it can keep doing stuff and I’m sweating profusely. The only reason I wanted off of this medication is because of the severe weight gain that it caused me.

    Now I’m second guessing myself because I felt a hell of a lot better before stopping. I hope this doesn’t last much longer because if it does, I’m going to start taking them again.

    • Sarah October 1, 2018, 2:54 am

      Hi Chris, Sorry to hear your suffering with all the awful side effects but they are all normal. I was on 70mg at night for pain after a bad ice skating accident & severe migraines for at least 7yrs.

      When I decided to stop taking them it was like you because I could not control my weight & found I was piling the pounds on & I felt even more restricted, btw I am 46. OMG the side effects started pretty much instantly with the pounding heart during the night to feeling like it suddenly stopped, these lasted a few nights…

      Along with this I had the sweats & felt my whole body was going to explode because I could not cool down,I wanted to strip off my clothes & run around my garden at night I was that hot… the headaches started too & were constant day & night I took paracetamol & got no sleep due to the headaches.

      I was agitated & had no concentration span at all. I also felt itchy all over which I took antihistamine to help reduce. My appetite was nonexistent & I felt sick from the minute I woke up in the morning to bedtime, nothing tasted right & I didn’t have any preferences for meals therefore skipped them but at the same time I had hunger pangs & felt dizzy!!!

      Why oh why do the Dr’s not tell you how severe these side effects are when you stop taking Amitriptyline? What I can now say tho is persevere because it is soooo worth it. I am more tired now than when I took the drug but I try & keep myself busy during the day & aim for bed 9-10pm pending if I can keep my eyes open til then & I sleep fantastic until 8-9am the following day.

      I do not have a constant dry mouth from the drug, headaches & dizziness have gone, my appetite is returning but I not eating like I was when I took the drug christ I was never full lol. My concentration span has improved & the sweats have fully gone. I don’t have any palpitations in the night either.

      It’s a tough road but worth the bumpy bits to get to the end because you will definitely not want to start taking it again. It does take a few more weeks to get the mood swings back in check but those I can cope with!!! Nothing would make me take Amitriptyline again I did truly feel like I had a really bad case of the flu & was going to die.

      I felt so lethargic some days I just slept all day & then again at night I wanted to cry because I felt I was getting worse but really I was getting better. I hope this reply helps you & you don’t feel alone. Good luck.

  • Rosalind September 7, 2018, 6:00 pm

    I was on Amitriptyline for over 15 years. I stopped taking them 8 weeks ago but suffering with insomnia and stomach problems. There is no going back but I crave for the time when I get a good nights sleep. :(

  • KATE September 7, 2018, 1:21 pm

    I came of Endep 10mg after 10 years of use. I did this about 8 weeks ago, initially it was awful and I experienced most of the effects of withdrawal as stated above: flu like symptoms, headaches, lethargy and generalized sense of being unwell.

    It was so tempting to just go back on it but I have kept going. I incorporated meditation. There are plenty of apps you can download on your phone for free. I started 10 mins and have gradually built up. I find time every day to make this happen. My sleeping is still not 100% but I know it’s slowly improving.

    I have chosen more fruit and veg, no alcohol and little coffee. Also I make sure I exercise every day even if it’s just a walk – I hope these steps might help others. I am now beginning to feel much better, not completely over it, but I know that I have made ground.

    Some days I still experience light headedness and run out of steam early in the evening – but believe me, it’s worth it if you can hang in the there – I am mid 60s and now take no medication other than some Vitamin D. Good luck everyone.

  • Rita September 6, 2018, 10:25 pm

    I haver been on Ami for over 40 years!! I was on a very low dose (5-10 mg). I am trying to get off it and oh boy, what a horrible feeling. Nausea, foggy brain, etc!!! I hope it will not take to long. I went cold turkey – maybe should have done it slowly!!

  • Lorna September 1, 2018, 4:58 pm

    So good to know others are having trouble with this drug too. My story is of small use of Ami, for facial neuralgia. When I was first prescribed it – about 4/5 years ago – it was 10mg at night. I just took it for the increasingly troublesome neuralgia in my face and didn’t know of the risks.

    I started researching on the internet and found it is implicated in dementia – a ‘robust association’ between Ami and dementia is how it is described. Dementia runs on the female side in my family. I stayed off it for as long as I could, but after about six months I have to have some again for the pain.

    No matter how little or infrequently it is taken, it is a serious risk for the future development of dementia. Twenty years is the figure quoted for the ‘sudden, unexpected’ dementia to show itself. DO NOT TAKE THIS DRUG. Too late for me.

  • Dennis September 1, 2018, 2:14 am

    I’ve been on Elavil 150 mg for over 20 years for fibromyalgia. The side effects are terrible from this medicine. Mainly weight gain, mental fog and constipation. I also take Lyrica. The side effects for both of the meds are the same. I had a heart attack last year and quit both cold turkey for over two months. The withdrawals were worse than the heart attack. I just quit them both cold turkey again. I am on day 3, and there is no way I will start these again. I just wish I had a good doctor.

    • chris September 1, 2018, 8:02 pm

      I wish you good luck on the quitting cold turkey and in finding a good doctor – both are so hard. I have had some success on my own with a book called “You Are The Placebo” by Dr. Joe Dispenza. There is also a meditation on youtube for it that I have found helpful. Not easy work, but worth it. Check it out if you wish.

      • Emile September 3, 2018, 9:13 pm

        Thanks for advice I will check out book & Youtube – have tapered over the last 18 months & now off for 2 weeks & finding the not sleeping hard going amongst a few other vague symptoms – was good to read a positive comment (reduced from 80mg for migraines & sleep).

  • katie August 30, 2018, 1:19 am

    I have been on 100mg a day for over 20 years. Tried multiple times to come off with horrible symptoms. Now I am decreasing my dose 12% every 6 weeks. I am now at 75mg! It will take almost a year at this rate, which is OK.

    If I reduce my dose and am still having symptoms after 6 weeks, I plan to stay on that dose till they go away. This has worked far better than anything else I have tried… so far so good. In 2 weeks I get to reduce again. I take a melatonin if I am having trouble sleeping and it helps.

  • Paul August 26, 2018, 7:50 pm

    I have been reading these comments with interest. I thought I would add my experiences of Amitriptyline withdrawal. I was taking 20mg for Migraine for the last two years. Everything was going well, until I started to have fits in my sleep. This would happen during dream sleep.

    It would wake me up and leave me quite confused and frightened. I thought this must be down to the drug. I had a period off work coming, so I decided to come off the drug over the summer. I thought I could manage any withdrawal symptoms, while not having to work for the last six weeks.

    I reduced the dose to 10mg for two weeks then 5mg for two weeks then none. Over this period I have been hospitalized twice. The first time, was in the first week of withdrawal. My anxiety went through the roof at night. I was convinced I was having a heart attack. I called 999 and was taken to A&E.

    After loads to tests, I was given the all clear and sent home. The second time was yesterday. The same degree of anxiety and the intense feeling that I was experiencing a heart attack. Once more, I ended up in A&E. The symptoms were quite profound and I was sent to urgent care and the hospital resuscitation unit.

    After a battery of test, I was again given the all clear. I am generally healthy and 49. Before reading these posts tonight, I was considering going back on the drug tonight. Now that I have seen the other post, claiming the degree of anxiety that people have experienced during withdrawal, I feel reassured and will try and continue without Amitriptyline.

    I will let you know how I get on but six weeks in, it is challenging. Since coming off the drug I haven’t had any fits during my sleep, although getting to sleep and remaining asleep has been hard. Good luck to all in withdrawal!

    • Beaux September 20, 2018, 8:49 pm

      I know that you have really been through the fire after reading the post. Could you please repost and let me know how you are and your experience of the detox? Best Wishes, Beaux the Cajun

  • Jen August 25, 2018, 7:15 am

    I was on Trepiline for a long time many years ago, when my doctor stopped me cold turkey so don’t remember withdrawal symptoms. Recently prescribed Trepiline again, mainly for Fibromyalgia. Took 10mg for 8 days. Spoke to someone who is also taking it and told me about side effects.

    Went cold turkey without having read anything. Now, one month later: vomiting, nausea, light headedness, dizziness, itching, burning and pain in legs and toes. Is this possible after such a short dose?

  • Neil August 23, 2018, 10:26 am

    I was on Amit for 15 years. First 10 years on 100 mg and 50 mg for the last 5 years. It stopped working 12 months ago so went back to doctors. I was unaware off tapering off at that stage. Anyway doctor swapped me straight over onto mirtazapine.

    I know now that was a mistake. Anyway could it be possible I’m still suffering from Amit withdrawal 12 months on? Or could it be the mirtazapine making me feel really ill? I’m sick of going around in circles with doctors. I’m done with them.

  • Jennifer August 21, 2018, 4:35 am

    I have taken amitriptyline for 4 years. I went cold turkey about 6 or 7 weeks ago. Instead of getting better, my withdrawal symptoms are worsening. I’m constantly nauseated. I do not sleep and if I do sleep, its not good or long sleep with crazy dreams.

    I get up with a sick feeling headache in the mornings. I recently had a 3 day convention event that involved being around thousands of people and I experienced heart pounding so severe that it made me afraid, nauseated, and had electrical zaps.

    By the end of the day, each day, I was in severe pain in all of my joints and too sick and tired to even eat. The heart pounding has subsided, but I’m still nauseated with a sick headache and at times feel like I am going to pass out if I don’t lay down. I smell everything.

    My sense of smell is unnatural and my hearing is sensitive too. I’m so completely miserable and there are not enough words or enough time to explain to my loved ones what I’m going through. I’m a mom and a wife and a care-taking daughter. So, my life is busy.

    So far, I’ve been able to keep going, but through some pretty severe suffering. Don’t ever suggest to anyone to take amitriptyline. It’s straight from the devil.

    • Bobbi September 8, 2018, 6:36 pm

      I have just finished coming of amitriptyline. On it for 30 years – dose 150mg. I tapered of 10mg a month. I might be itchy, can’t get to sleep either, have sweats, etc. – but I’m so proud that I stuck to it. No longer have severe constipation or continual dry mouth. I would encourage anyone who wants to come of this med to keep going.

    • Ethan September 10, 2018, 1:35 pm

      Thank you for your comment. I’ve been on 70mg Amit since 2007 and I am starting to think it’s no longer helping with my chronic migraines and vertigo, but actually causing them. I know a brother that was taking 100mg for insomnia and it was literally causing heart failure (in his late 20’s) so he quit cold turkey.

      It only took him two weeks to recover, but judging by all the comments…he got VERY lucky. I was going to try cold turkey like him, but based on yours and others’ comments and the article, I think I’m going to gradually reduce and hope it doesn’t take me longer than 6 weeks per reduction, but I expect that it might.

      One word of advice for someone who’s been suffering every day for a long time: do what you can, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for one second about the things that you can’t do. It’s not your fault, and worrying about it makes things worse. Sometimes just waking up and smiling is the best you can do and that’s ok. Hang in there!

    • Beaux September 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

      No truer words have ever been spoken. I am beginning my taper also. I was on 4 antidepressants sertraline, Elavil, Lamictal and Effexor. I am retired military and suffer terribly from PTSD. I have never wanted to take medications but I have seen with my eyes no one should ever have to see.

      I have already came off of Lamictal and Effexor, these are out my system now and was not horrible, but I know that it will be a different story with the Elavil. As for the Sertraline 100mg my doctor Dropped my daily dosage to 50mg for next 2 weeks and then I will be off of it.

      The Elavil I have been on for 30 years @ 100mg daily. It will not be easy but I will make it happen. I am 55 years old now and I want to know who I am without this demon pulsing through my brain and body. I am so excited to be at this point in my life.

      I was misdiagnosed by the military for depression. Technology has advanced so much that now decades later I’ve been diagnosed correctly. Please do not get me wrong, I would not have changed anything to serve our country. I am proud to have served.

  • Gene August 12, 2018, 3:20 pm

    Was on 30 mg nightly for migraine prevention. My blood sugar began rising until I was suddenly in the diabetic zone. This was a shocker, I’d never had any serum glucose issues before. I exercise religiously, diet is good, etc. I also began experiencing heartbeat irregularities, which I knew could happen.

    Long story short, I found out amitriptyline can raise blood sugar with extended use! Thanks for letting me know, doc, NOT. I discovered this on my own. Anyway, I started scaling back. I’d been taking it for almost 2 years, and knew I had to taper the dose. Over three months I got down to 10 mg.

    It was the last step, from 10 to zero, that caused problems. Lightheadedness and muscle cramps, mostly in my legs. Persistent diarrhea. The good news is my blood sugar is again in the normal range. Those other side effects continue.

    It’s only been a week, so I’m hopeful. This is a good drug, IMO. But there are side effects that seem to build over time. And withdrawal, as you can see from this thread, is a problem. Caveat emptor.

  • Elaine August 8, 2018, 6:11 pm

    I was on Amitriptyline 12 years and 1 day just decided I didn’t need this anymore. OMG! I couldn’t figure out why I felt so bad: lightheaded, nausea and it’s been 6 months – at least 3 days a week I still am lightheaded. Never would I have thought this would happen.

    I just kept feeling bad and the lightheaded just keeps coming. Tried to figure out what was different to make me feel so bad, and then a light bulb went off in my head – I went off Amitriptyline. Looked it up on the computer and here I am, one of y’all. It’s pure hell. Keep hoping it gets better.

  • Granny August 7, 2018, 10:20 pm

    I was on Amitriptyline for years for migraines and nerve pain. I was on a very low dose. When I decided to quit I was only on 10mil. I have been off the medication for 3 months and am still have trouble sleeping.

    I used to sleep like a baby. Now I sleep sound for about 4 hours and 1/2 sleep the rest of the night. Does anyone know if this is normal and how long it will take to get back to normal?

    • chris August 10, 2018, 11:05 pm

      I am no expert, but I do believe this is quite common. I am still on 10mg of it and will stay that way as the ramifications of just going from a low dose of 20 to 10 has been awful. Mostly anxiety and panic attacks. I believe it is one of the reasons that it is prescribed – for sleep.

      It’s been over 3 months for me and I am still having problems, so you aren’t alone. I know that doesn’t help you much, but at least you know you aren’t alone in this. Good luck.

      • nancy August 28, 2018, 7:46 pm

        I, also, have been on this journey to get off this med. It’s been terrible. I’ve been on a low dose, 15 mg, since 1988 after scoliosis surgery and fibromyalgia/pain. After 30 years it’s time to get off it because of the long term side effects. I reduced monthly by cutting pills… 15mg to 12.5mg to 10mg to 7.5mg, and Aug 1, dropped to 5mg.

        And then I hit the wall of withdrawal – extreme dizziness, extreme anxiety, extreme sick to my stomach, sweating, fatigue, muscle weakness, etc. I am working with my doctor and she has prescribed a compounded cream of Ami so that I can reduce at a much lower dose per month. I should get the cream by the end of this week and start it soon.

        I caution everyone now, before you take your first dose of Ami, to not take it if you really don’t need it. My body is now in shock trying to live without it after all these years. This article gives me hope that I’m not alone in this daily battle to regain my health. Thank you all.

  • Marianne July 29, 2018, 10:52 am

    I have suffered with chronic osteoarthritis for 20 years, having had bilateral knee replacements, hip replacements, shoulder replacements and flexible rods in my spine – also decompression of my spine to try and help with awful sciatica which affected both legs – right down to my feet.

    I have been on Amitriptyline, starting dose 10-20mg at night alongside many other meds, including fluoxetine for low mood. I thought Amitriptyline was the answer to my problems with sleeping – and as condition worsened I was allowed to increase dose to 50-75mg. Always slept well, and pain bearable at that dose.

    Now I have had a trial for Spinal cord stimulation, and have been accepted – due to successful weeks trial, and the fact that my back surgery failed. I am waiting for the stimulator to be implanted permanently, as during the trial it was very successful with sciatic pain in particular. Now I want to get rid of the Amitriptyline – having read so much about side effects and withdrawal.

    I have had awful facial sweating, summer and winter, and my weight – which I managed to keep stable has gone up by 28 lbs – despite healthy eating. I actually took none last night – felt OK – not quality sleep – though same silly dreams. I want to come of these by the time my stimulator is fitted and kicks in – probably in about 8-10 weeks. Please has anyone any advice for me?

    • Trix August 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

      Hi Marianne. I have a spinal cord Stimulator and it’s fantastic. The Stimulator has gave me some control back regarding my pain. I was on a 100 mg of Amitriptyline for about 4 years and lower doses before that. Please do not just stop taking those tablets in a matter of weeks.

      I cannot emphasize enough how evil this drug is and how bad the after-effects are. I weaned myself off them in about 4 months. I wish I could turn the clock back and do it gradually over a year. You’re probably thinking that’s a long time right? Well believe me the last 5 months I can only describe as a nightmare that’s not ending.

      Chronic pain, flu feeling all the time, migraines, panic attacks, sweating, ringing in my ears when I lie done. Some weeks I feel it’s starting to get better and then it’s back with a vengeance. I wish I had read up on it before I decided to stop. Good luck with your Stimulator. It takes a while to get it right, but it’s a godsend.

  • Jerry July 27, 2018, 12:09 pm

    I’ve been on amitriptyline (to treat depression) since the early 1980’s and, unfortunately, have increased the dosage to 200 mg per day over the years. I’ve had one doctor who tried to gradually reduce the amounts I take, and the result was disastrous.

    I am completely unable to sleep without it, and the insomnia seemed never ending. I take it now as a sleep aid, rather than for depression, since it does nothing to alleviate those symptoms. I take another drug to deal with those.

    Is it even worth my while to try to rid myself of my dependence on this drug, given my age (66) and how long the recovery will take?

  • Ann July 21, 2018, 9:58 pm

    I was prescribed 10mg amitriptyline for insomnia and chronic fatigue starting in 2002, by 2007 I was taking 100 mg/day. I began tapering off in 2010 after having surgery and was doing okay at 50 mg last year. Then I came off too quickly, going through panic attacks and anxiety daily and feeling suicidal when I got down to 10mg/day.

    Now seeing a psychiatrist who wants to increase my dose back to 100mg or more, but it isn’t helping me at all to sleep and I have great anxiety and lethargy most days which they want to give me Valium for. I have had two neurological workups which concluded with the doctor also suggesting I increase the dose of amitriptyline to 100mg or more!

    My family is with me on this and they are worried about me all the time. I have not been happy in a long time and I feel some kind of antidepressant is necessary for me (or else TMS treatments) because I am in my 60s and have a heart condition. I hope my body will heal through this withdrawal, as life is too short to have such worries.

  • David July 12, 2018, 2:22 am

    I began talking 75 mg in 96 for HIV headaches and sweats. I was pleased with the results but lately I have no zip in my life and I am healthier now in some respects. I began tapering by 12.5 mg tapering slowly, I do not look up withdraw symptoms as to not affect how I feel.

    But now I know how crappy it’s been, severe nightmares that leave me panting and sobbing, tremors, dizziness, nausea, restlessness, fatigue, social anxiety, sweat attacks, and on. My feet are scraped, bruised and swollen from walking into things.

    There have been signs of being happier so I’m continuing. 22 years is a long time so I know it’s slow going. I am on my lowest dose of 12.5 from 75. I just hope it’s low enough to finally get this out of my system.

  • Ejn July 8, 2018, 12:11 am

    I have been on amitriptyline for almost 30 years, rarely more than 50 mgs for chronic fatigue and migraines. Also seroquel – 25 mgs – 15 years. Tapered down to 17.5 Ami and no seroquel in 6 months using a jeweler’s scale, tryptophan – 1500-2000 mgs, 5 mgs lithium orotate and 4 mgs low dose naltrexone.

    I had tapered off completely without the supplements two years ago and got so sick I spent 6 months in bed. Took 18 months to get back to normal. Now, it is easy peasy, just have to sleep an hour in the afternoon because of lethargy. At night with Tryptophan and LDN, I sleep 9 hours easy. Naturopaths rock.

  • chris June 29, 2018, 5:01 pm

    I have been on 20 mg at night for about 20 years – give or take. I also was on Ativan for anxiety and panic attacks. I tapered the Ativan and have been off of it for about 1 & 1/2 years. I then decided to try and taper off of the Amitriptyline – cut it in half about a month and a half ago – on 10mgs right now.

    I have had a hard time with that – anxiety is off the charts and eye auras are not good. I took 20 mgs last night as I don’t know if it is worth continuing as I am so uncomfortable – and I was really having no issues on the 20mg – just thought why not! LOL.

    I can be my own worst enemy sometimes! I definitely am full of more anxiety without taking the Ativan, but I will not go back on. I have so many issues with meds I can’t tolerate that I might just stay on the 20mgs. Thoughts?

  • Lisa June 23, 2018, 2:26 am

    Omg I stopped taking 25 mg cold turkey because my doctor said it was ok! I feel terrible! Nausea, headache for 4 days straight, fatigue, muscle pain.

    Now I don’t know if I should just deal with it. I want to get off it so bad, but thinking of taking one every few days or so. I just hope I feel better soon.

  • Randell June 14, 2018, 9:24 pm

    My journey of pain has now lasted 4 years. It all began with a seemingly insignificant fender bender where I was twisted in my seat as I grabbed for my phone while crashing into a truck at a low rate of speed. I told my insurance I was “uninjured” and signed off to such and a few weeks later began to have rather severe left chest and abdominal pains.

    3 trips to the ER, two sets of upper and lower GI wherein the first revealed a small amount of Barrett’s esophagus, which added to anxieties that the wreck and damage to our car had begun to bring into my life. I thought most of my problems would be fixed when I had bilateral inguinal hernia repair but that only made matters worse. Back and forth, from doctor to doctor for tests and “normal” findings.

    The pain kept advancing to the point that I was struggling to function. My family said I have fibromyalgia. I flew to California twice for injections in my lower back and chest. Nothing seemed to work, nor does it to this point. But, about 9 months ago I found a cash only doctor and he was willing to try anything to help me and had no desire to repeat all the tests that had been done over the previous 3 years.

    During this time I had begun to experience PVC’s which literally scared me to death. (They still do scare me)! An EKG and wearing a halter monitor proved I had no damage at the time but there were some significant issues with my heartbeat and rate. Our first effort was with citalopram for 30 days and it seemed to do the trick for about that long.

    It was 20mg at bedtime. In 45 days or so the pains were back with a vengeance. Without even considering my heart palpitations I was prescribed 50mg of amitriptyline at bed time. What a wonderful experience that first 5 months was! No pain, a brighter outlook and life was okay! But during that time I gained 40#! Between the beta blocker and the amitriptyline I was swelling like a tick.

    And then the wheels began to come off. Slowly the pains were coming back. The doctor wrote the script for 100mg/day but I refused. I had no desire to go down that rabbit hole. So I began the arduous task of once again self-detoxing off a prescription med. I began cutting pills and estimating and as the dosage reduced the pains came back even stronger.

    A darkness came over my life. Pain unlike I’ve ever had before(along with a massive amount of anxiety) became my life. I’m a pastor and a man of faith in God. That may in fact be the only thing that kept me alive over the last month or so because I’ve had days that I hurt so bad I didn’t feel like going on and I’ve also felt like I was certainly going to die even when I didn’t want to do so.

    Where am I now? Well, I’ve had no amitriptyline for at least 2 months, maybe more and the pain still comes in waves and seems often triggered by stress. When it comes the PVC’s ramp up and anxiety kicks in and life spirals downward. CBD oil, very strong CBD oil seems to help some with the pain and anxiety. Along with 1-2mg of benzodiazepine, but that is another deep dark rabbit hole too!

    Right now I have a headache, chest, sternum, neck and rib pain. Today it is manageable and I pray in time, with God’s help the horrible withdrawal symptoms of amitriptyline are finally gone from my life, never to return. I had mornings (6 weeks no Ami) where I could barely walk when I got out of bed. I felt drunk, light headed and honestly didn’t know if I would continue to live.

    For now the dizziness and stumbling are gone. The tremors and weak muscles are still with me, as are the PVC’s but I will never go back to Ami! My next doctor’s visit is with a new doctor and we are going to try hyperbaric oxygen therapy to see if this mess my body is in can be healed rather than just treating symptoms and often making said symptoms worse.

    If you have been prescribed amitriptyline and haven’t swallowed your first dose yet, read up on it! Please! If you have any heart issues whatsoever please ask your doctor for a different med! I have swelling issues with my hands and feet that seem to be irreversible.

    I suspect my heart will never be the same and I’m no longer a distance runner or runner at all. Please, take care, read up, study up and God bless you in your journey toward health!

    • Shawna July 12, 2018, 1:30 pm

      Very interesting!! I have what they call a “mixed connective tissue disease” which consists of fibromyalgia, lupus, Raynaud’s and rheumatoid. My issue is… for the last 4 years I have had an extremely severe itching of my arms. I sleep with ice blocks!

      I recently called my rheumatologist after having spent hundreds of dollars on prescription drugs, dermatologists and chiro to get told they “thought” it was caused by nerve damage? My rheumatologist claimed no drug she had prescribed me would give me a rash!

      This rash has scared me and honestly, like u, was not wanting to live another day with it! HOWEVER… I have tried all 4 fibro drugs and the Amitriptyline has been the ONLY miracle drug I found! The issue is… IF I quit I will be back in bed (I fear!)

      I literally got off of CPP disability and the drug has allowed me to maintain employment (which I couldn’t do during drug testing to find the “right” combination for me). I am stuck in this: Do I go off it and suffer the consequences of going back to feeling awful?

      Or do I possibly get rid of the most annoying and frustrating rash I’ve ever had? I ran out of this drug for a week once and I was really dizzy, felt intoxicated and highly confused.

      I would obviously taper off it if/when I decide to do this. I was on 100mg and was doing ridiculous things like turning left on a red light etc. so I have been at 50 mg now for just under 4 years! Any thoughts?

    • Ron August 29, 2018, 2:51 pm

      Randall, I greatly appreciated your sharing. I recently had a motorcycle accident. The broken leg is going to need some steel works, the head injuries, and other fractures are healing well. The neuropathy pain which I have comes from a fractured neck, C6, which creates that stinging burning sensation in both my lower half of each hand.

      And I still have evening pain for the shoulder fracture and broken clavicle. I was on gabapentin for 6 weeks in the hospital that felt very strong, but it really didn’t help with the pain in my hands. My switch to amitriptyline was done a month ago and I have noticed a reduction in and I have slept very well.

      However, the side effects of dizziness waking up in the morning, reduction in sexual function, swelling, and increased heart rate outweighed the benefits. I was on an antidepressant for many years, a number of years ago, and I do not want to give up my sex life or interest in my wife sexually, because of a drug. As well, the negative impacts of withdrawal are telling!

      I noted you’ve had some experience with CBD oil. Some of the research I have read indicates there have been some positive results with CBD oil and approximately 5% THC oil for neuropathic pain. I would be interested in any further experience individuals have had. Fortunately, my pain to date is bothersome, however, not at a level to have me continue on amitriptyline.

  • Ben June 12, 2018, 2:27 am

    Yup, went cold turkey. 37 years old and 230lbs. I have been on a 50mg for a year; wish I knew there would be a problem detoxing, but now that my system is going bananas and it’s too late for me to fix that. Feeling the added anger, dizziness, nervous system shocks (I feel pulsating up and down my body for any moderate movement… yay).

    Hearing is sensitive and ringing constantly. I have been having slight symptoms for a week since stopping, but it has hit me like a ton of bricks today; it was certainly not helpful I decided to try and detox from sugar this week either.

    I won’t lie, I did like losing 5 pounds in 2 days, but that journey was a bit horrific. Don’t do this cold turkey, get a doctor to help.

  • Elizabeth June 10, 2018, 3:19 am

    I had been on at least 20 mg daily for 18 years following diagnosis of benign intracranial hypertension. At times got down to 10mg but headaches increased so I increased use again.

    Last year due to another health reason I increased use to 40 mg daily. But decided to taper off completely over the past 4 months. Now take nothing. Hasn’t significantly affected my sleep, but feel anxious a great deal of the time.

  • Chuck F. June 10, 2018, 2:03 am

    I’ve been on amitriptyline for ten years for really bad insomnia. I’d previously tried every single sleeping pill available without relief. The insomnia was bad enough so that I wound up not being able to function at all. Then my doctor suggested 50mg of amitriptyline at bedtime.

    It was a lifesaver. I know it was originally an anti-depressant and that use of it as a sleeping pill is off-label, but I’ve never been depressed and I’ve never needed or taken an anti-depressant. As an entirely reliable sleeping pill I think amitriptyline is superb.

    However, it’s right up there as a serious anti-cholinergic and that’s a bad thing, particularly as you age and wonder about dementia. So I’ve been trying to get off it for three years. I’m now stabilized at 25mg. Every time I try to go below that (sometimes sticking to lower doses for three months or so) the disabling insomnia returns.

    And I do mean disabling, as in simply not being able to drive or work or think straight after three or four nights of one or two hours “sleep.” I’ve read one comment above that contained the brilliant idea of working with a compounding pharmacy to be able to decrease no more than 10% at a time.

    To my knowledge the smallest amitriptyline doses available commercially are 10mg and 25 mg. And the 10mg pills are so tiny I haven’t been able to successfully split them. That results in decreases of 25% when you go from 25mg to 20mg and 50% when you go from 20mg to 10mg, not to mention 100% when you go from 10mg to zero.

    So though I’ve never been to this website before, that one suggestion of a compounding pharmacy has made my day. I hope it works! Whether or not it does I’ll report back and describe what happens. Thank you!

    • Marianne September 1, 2018, 2:56 pm

      I am still trying to wean off Amitriptyline – although the tablets are not scored – I use a tablet cutter to divide the 25mg tablet first into 2 – then again into 4 pieces. Not really ideal as no two pieces are exactly the same size/dose, but better and a cleaner cut than using a knife. Most pharmacies sell them – and you can buy online for around £2.

    • Cindy September 19, 2018, 2:47 pm

      I bought a pill splitter at costco that can cut the 10 mg. Most of the time I just bite it in half :-)

  • Kathy June 4, 2018, 5:15 am

    I have been on 10 mg for 5 months to help with stomach issues. This drug has made me feel a little better however In the last couple of months I have been having pressure in my chest. I am slowly gaining weight despite sticking to a 1200 to 1400 cal diet for the last 6 weeks.

    Sometimes I go to bed at one weight and in the morning it’s the same. Since I don’t have to get up much during the night to go to the bathroom, I feel The pill makes me retain water. I cut the pill in half and this morning had multiple bowel movements until my body was sore. I will continue at half dose.

    After reading this column I guess I should go slower. I may have to stay on the half dose for a week or more and then cut in half again. I will hear from my doctor this week and see what she recommends. This is quite scary after such a low dose.

  • Kaz June 1, 2018, 7:51 am

    Very useful information. I’ve been on 170mg and slowly got down to 100mg then 50mg which is my current dose. I recently dropped to 50mg. I’ve been taking this medication for nearly 10 years. Had a headache for 3 days and feel very detached from the world.

    My hearing and eyes are so sensitive it’s horrible. Everything from people eating to a ticking clock I’m finding painful. I’m hoping once I’m off completely that my body will recover and go back to being normal. How long will it take though?

  • Jane May 30, 2018, 10:43 am

    I found this article and the comments of people’s own experiences very helpful when preparing to stop amitriptyline but noticed that no-one had posted having emerged from the withdrawal process so thought I’d post a comment to encourage those still going through it.

    I have CFS/ME and was prescribed amitriptyline some 25 years ago to help me sleep – which it did. In recent years I’ve been on 20 mgs during the summer and often up to 40 in the winter. As my health gradually improved I was able to come down to 10 mgs though became less convinced that it was really helping me sleep.

    I tried stopping from 10mgs a couple of times and simply stopped sleeping so tapered down through 1/2 then 1/4 10 mg tablet which worked well. I finally stopped taking them last September and at first thought I’d got away without a bad reaction. However, after about a month the reaction kicked in!

    I experienced a number of the reactions mentioned in this article – most notably stopping sleeping. Over time that pushed my CFS back so the winter wasn’t too good. However, I have gradually begun to sleep better though for a long time didn’t have more than 2 successive better nights in a row.

    That’s just beginning to change now and my strength is generally picking up so that I feel as if I am emerging from the withdrawal process. I know we’re all different but hope this may give some encouragement to those for whom the withdrawal reaction seems endless…

    • Ann July 22, 2018, 10:49 pm

      This is good news. I got down to 10mg/day and for a month was okay, then it hit me hard with all the nerve pain from arthritis in my back to burning feet. If I could stand it long enough to reduce to 10mg again, I would like to have a Calmare treatment (which is expensive and not covered by insurance and may or may not work anyway).

      I have been on this for almost two decades. I realize that my body is not what it used to be, and some kind of nerve damage and pain is to be expected. When it quits working for you, you have to do something. For me, my heart condition makes it harder to deal with so I have little recourse.

  • Gloria Monk May 20, 2018, 11:38 pm

    I stupidly jumped off cold turkey from 50mg and have had 24 hour severe headaches to migraines. I cannot sleep. Very sensitive to noise. Lethargic. Difficulties with concentration and remembering things. I also feel achey and extremely nauseous 24/7. Severe daily indigestion.

    Please talk to your GP about tapering off. I have never experienced withdrawals like this from a SUPPOSED antidepressant. Beware. Doctors hand them out so easily with very little information. DO YOUR RESEARCH. BTW – it did not help much with my depression. I was taking it daily for two years.

  • Maria May 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    I took 25mg for 1 week when I had to go on a business trip like I normally do, I got on the plane, sat down and started eating a croissant when all of a sudden I had the worst panic attack. I had to get up, grabbed my carry on and got off the plane.

    I then realized that this medicine was triggering my anxiety. I stopped cold turkey, my GI doctor prescribed it for stomach inflammation so I thought I could just stopped cold turkey. Well, I’m glad I found this website because I thought I was going crazy.

    Panic attacks with pressure on my brain like if it was cramping. It’s ben 3 days and I only had a few episodes in the morning, I felt very scared until I read this site and found relief on knowing it will get better. I hope everyone gets better!

  • Nan May 3, 2018, 3:41 am

    I have been on 20 mg for 8 years for vestibular migraine. I am very sensitive to medication so it’s been really hard to get off this drug. I have been tapering very very slowly using a compounding pharmacy that decreases my dose by 10 percent every month. Some people are not as sensitive to medication and therefore they can taper off more quickly.

  • Mark April 17, 2018, 1:06 am

    Hi, I wanted to give another perspective. I was on amitriptyline 25mg at night for nerve pain for about five years. I stopped them and had trouble sleeping for about 4 nights. But then, it was fine and I had no other problems at all.

    • Rob April 20, 2018, 8:41 pm

      I was on 25 mg daily for about 10 years. I stopped about two weeks ago and am still feeling lethargic and having trouble concentrating.

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