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Amitriptyline & Weight Gain: The Reason 50% Discontinue Treatment

Amitriptyline (Elavil) is the most popular TCA (tricyclic antidepressant) medication on the market. It is primarily utilized for the treatment of depression, and in other cases, migraine headaches and anxiety disorders. The drug functions primarily by inhibiting the reuptake of the serotonin transporter, which increases extracellular levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Although serotonin is primarily responsible for producing its antidepressant effect, the drug also affects other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine to a minor extent.

Although TCAs are seldom prescribed as a first-line treatment for depression, some individuals actually find that they work better than SSRIs and other new antidepressants. If a person fails to respond to several newer drugs, a psychiatrist will likely prescribe a TCA – and due to the fact that Amitriptyline is the most popular, it’s what most people end up taking. Like all antidepressants, this drug tends to yield side effects, one of which may be unwanted weight gain.

Amitriptyline and Weight Gain

Some studies have estimated that 50% of all patients who discontinue treatment with a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA), do so because they’ve experienced excessive weight gain. For this reason, some people may find that Amitriptyline works extremely well for their depression and balancing their mood, but they may not be able to put up with the increase in weight. Let’s face it, gaining weight can (in some cases) override the antidepressant effects of the drug and actually contribute to depression as a result of poor body image.

How Amitriptyline Causes Weight Gain

There is an array of research that has been conducted with Amitriptyline to investigate how the drug may cause weight gain. Researchers have long claimed that this medication can alter your hormone levels, cause you to crave sweets/carbohydrates, and increase your appetite. If you gain weight while taking this particular medication, below are some reasons that may help you understand why.

  • Appetite increase: Some studies have determined that Amitriptyline can be administered to individuals suffering from eating disorders like anorexia and effectively boost their appetite. If you have been taking the drug and notice that you’re a lot hungrier than usual, it could be that the drug is making you feel hungrier than normal (for a variety of reasons).
  • Craving carbohydrates: There are multiple studies that have found that those who take Amitriptyline tend to experience an increase in cravings for “sweets” and carbohydrates. It is known that carbohydrates will cause weight gain if they are not properly used and/or eaten in excess. The cravings may stem indirectly from this drug’s effect of raising serotonin levels – a neurotransmitter directly tied to carbohydrates.
  • Depression reduction: Some people who are depressed tend to under-eat, leading to a weight loss. Assuming this drug is working to effectively treat the depression, the person may realize that they should resume normal eating habits. This may lead the person to re-gain the weight that was lost during a depressive episode.
  • Fat storage: The body tends to store fat differently when we are taking certain antidepressant medications compared to during homeostatic functioning. This is due to the fact that medications tend to alter metabolic functions as well as various hormones. When hormone levels are altered, some people have a tendency to pack on extra fat with relative ease.
  • Hormone levels: Perhaps another important clue to weight gain that people experience on Amitriptyline is the change in the level of various hormones, particularly that of “leptin.” This hormone is involved in appetite regulation and hunger. When levels of leptin increase (as caused by the drug), we feel hungrier more often, and are more likely to eat.
  • Motivation reduction: The fact that this medication is known to decrease energy levels in those that take it, this often leads to reduced motivation. When your motivation plummets, you are going to have a much tougher time getting your butt up to exercise as well as plan healthy meals; this leads to weight gain.
  • Sedation: A very common side effect that people experience from Amitriptyline is that of sedation. This is considered one of the most sedating TCA medications, leading people to feel fatigued, sleepy, and tired while taking it. If you feel more tired than usual, you may end up exercising less and sleep more – leading to less calories burned and a slower metabolism.
  • Slow metabolism: It is thought that you may experience a slowed metabolism as a result of many of the other factors on this list. Assuming the drug alters your hormones and makes you feel sedated, those to effects alone may contribute to a slow metabolism. Others speculate that the drug-induced physiological changes result in a slowing of the metabolism – leading to weight gain. If you have maintained the same diet and exercise habits throughout your treatment as you did pre-drug, and gain weight, it could be due to metabolic slowing.
  • Social eating: If the drug is working well to treat your depression and/or anxiety, there’s a chance that you may start to socialize more frequently. Frequent socialization often leads to social eating, or eating out with friends. If you end up eating out more than usual, you’re probably going to end up gaining weight.
  • Taste perception: When depressed, some people claim to have a blunted perception of taste or that food just doesn’t seem to have the same pizzazz. If this medication works well to improve your mood, you may find that your taste also improves, leading you to eat more often (and possibly larger portions), both of which can lead to weight gain.

Note: It is important to understand that although many of the factors listed above can cause weight gain, they degree to which they affect you is highly individualized. One person may start eating out with friends more often on the drug, while another may simply become tired, lethargic, and unmotivated. Keep in mind that the path to gaining weight on any medication is often subject to individual variation.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6754192
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16232156
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4588039

Factors that influence weight gain on Amitriptyline

There are other influential factors that can determine how much weight gain you experience on Amitriptyline. These include things like: the dosage you take, how long you’ve been medicated, your lifestyle, whether you take other drugs, as well as your genetics.

1. Dosage

Studies have shown that even if you are taking low-moderate doses of Amitriptyline, you may still gain weight. That said, if you are concerned about weight, it is always recommended to take the minimal effective dose to treat your depression. The higher the dose you take, the more likely you are to gain weight as well as amplify any existing weight gain you’ve experienced.

When taking high doses, the drug tends to have more influence over your physiological functioning. With increased influence, its effects on neurotransmitters like serotonin become amplified, but so do its unwanted side effects like weight gain. Some people claim that there is a direct dose-weight relationship associated with Amitriptyline.

2. Time Span

How long have you been taking this medication? Those that have been on it for years already have likely adapted to its effects and have (in all likelihood) maxed out their potential weight gain. Those that have been on the drug for a long-term likely have experienced some change in weight as well as BMI throughout their treatment.

It should also be mentioned that the longer you are on this drug, the more likely you are to have become tolerant, and thus need to increase your dosage (which we know can lead to weight gain). Those that use the drug over a very short-term may not notice as much weight gain simply because the body may not have fully adapted to the drug. Unfortunately many people end up having to discontinue after just a moderate term (6 months to 1 year) because their weight has ballooned.

3. Lifestyle

While it may be easy to place complete blame on the Amitriptyline for the weight that you’ve gained, it is also important to evaluate your lifestyle. Take the time to consider whether you practice healthy eating, get enough sleep, minimize your stress, and make exercise a priority. If you aren’t getting any exercise, are highly stressed, and are eating garbage foods – your lifestyle may be more of a contributor to your weight gain than the drug you’re taking. Practice healthy habits so that you know whether it is really the drug causing you to gain weight.

4. Other drugs

Also think about whether you are taking any other medications. If you are taking an antipsychotic drug, those are associated with more significant weight gain than Amitriptyline. If you are on an array of different medications, it may be helpful to have a discussion with your doctor about which drugs are most likely causing your weight gain. Also keep in mind that those who don’t gain weight on this drug may be unknowingly offsetting the weight gain if they simultaneously take a stimulant medication and/or drug associated with weight loss.

5. Genetics

Another explanation for why you gain weight on this drug and another person doesn’t could be due to genetics. Each person has a unique genetic code and genetic variants that respond to this medication. If your genetics aren’t a good fit for the drug or make you more susceptible to weight gain based on this drug’s mechanism of action, you’re going to have a more difficult time staying slim. Fortunately there are new technologies in the works like GeneSight that analyze your genetic code to predict how you’ll respond to various antidepressants.

How much weight will you gain on Amitriptyline?

Unfortunately there is minimal research documenting exactly how much weight people gain while taking Amitriptyline. Some studies that analyze tricyclic antidepressants (including Amitriptyline) have reported that people tend to gain between 1 lbs. and 3 lbs. per month while taking the medication for 6 months. Among those taking TCAs, people tend to gain anywhere from 3 lbs. to 16 lbs. after being medicated for 6 months. Since Amitriptyline is one of the more sedating TCAs on the market, some speculate that more weight gain is common.

Does Amitriptyline cause everyone to gain weight?

Not everyone gains weight on Amitriptyline. As was already mentioned, weight gain is highly based upon individual factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and whether you’re taking other medications. That said, most people who are only taking Amitriptyline are likely to experience some weight gain. While it may be discouraging to gain some weight, with adequate exercise and healthy dietary intake, it can be minimized.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6238068

Should you discontinue treatment if you gain weight?

Up to 50% of all people who discontinue this drug do so because of weight gain. If you are planning on quitting this particular drug, you may want to talk to your doctor about other options. It is important to always weigh the therapeutic benefit you are getting with the unwanted side effects such as weight gain. If the weight you’ve gained has become problematic and impairs your functioning, you may want to consider Amitriptyline withdrawal.

However, if the drug is working well to keep your major depression under control, you may be able to justify some weight gain. Never be too quick to discontinue a drug just because you’ve packed on a few pounds. Proper interventions such as daily exercise, changing your diet, and possibly other medications may be able to help offset the weight gain; talk to your doctor about what can be done.

Did you gain weight while taking Amitriptyline?

If you’ve taken this drug (or are currently taking it) and have experienced weight gain, be sure to talk about it in the comments section below. It may be helpful if you include some specific information such as how long you’ve been taking the drug, when you first noticed the weight gain, your dosage, and other medications. Also mention why you believe the drug caused you to gain weight. Even if you didn’t gain any weight (or are a rare person who lost weight) on this drug, you are welcome to join the discussion.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2975806
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/872612

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133 thoughts on “Amitriptyline & Weight Gain: The Reason 50% Discontinue Treatment”

  1. I started taking Amitriptyline for debilitating vestibular migraines. When I have these migraines, it lasts for months. I started taking 10mg daily, and my vestibular migraines have stopped! Unfortunately, it has caused tachycardia and weight gain.

    (I tried taking just 5 mg daily, but the vestibular migraines came back.) I have been on the medicine for approximately 3 weeks and I’ve gained 7 lbs. I usually only eat one meal a day and two snacks. (My appetite has increased, but through sheer willpower I continue to eat as I have before.)

    With an increase in heart rate, the same diet, and finally being able to function in the world, I thought I would end up losing weight. I’m so grateful my headaches are gone, however the weight gain is really bothering me. My clothes don’t fit any longer, and it all seems to be in my stomach.

    I want to exercise, but just going up the stairs causes my heart rate to soar. In the past I would get exertional migraines from exercising too rigorously. Will the weight gain level off or will it continue to increase?

    Has anyone had success with Co Q10, magnesium and B2 helping with vestibular migraines? Thank you for all the posts! It is helpful knowing others are experiencing the same thing.

    • Jennifer, I took 25 mg of amitrip for 2 years because of vestibular migraines. It worked a trick but I gained 12 lbs (despite being very active and a very healthy eater). Which came off over 5 months when I quit taking the amitrip.

      I take the Coq10, B2, and Magnesium combination and it works very well. Started while taking the amitrip and continue to do so today. Cuts down on the headaches by at least 70%. I take Advil about 3 days a month now. Best of luck.

  2. I have degenerate disc disease… My vertebrae are crushing my discs into my spinal cord. Basically when it hit me, I was deathly afraid I would never walk again. At first I was given Gabapentin. It worked okay, but I felt like my brain had stopped connecting and I couldn’t focus. I was gaining weight uncontrollably.

    Down the road, my main doctor quit and another was assigned to me. Immediately, after learning that I felt spaced out and forgetful all of the time – she switched me to amitriptyline. I have now gone from a healthy 110-115 lbs. to a sickening and stunning 135-145 lbs. I’m short to boot – so this transition has made me extremely self-conscious.

    I always wondered why… (as an ex-pastry chef who never even cared for sweets) I became overweight, lethargic and basically still in pain on top of it… I now have no doubt as to why I am having so many physical bodily issues. I have always been healthy and energetic. To become what I am now is truly disappointing.

    I’ve worked hard to be healthy – only to find out that I was prescribed a drug that has done nothing but worsen my state… even my mind, which apparently, if this is a known antidepressant – it has done exactly the opposite for my life (mentally and physically both). I am scared to not take something for my ACTUAL AND FACTUAL physical problem.

    But I am also afraid what will be prescribed next. I don’t like to be a guinea pig, but I am now. I just need some help without all of these side effects. If anyone can lead me down a more natural/homeopathic road to healthy living… please help me! Much love.

  3. I am so thankful I found this site and reading everyone else comments. I thought it was something I had did, but didn’t think this medication would have caused so many problems. Over the course of two years I’ve dealt with the death of my father at a young age, my mother getting sick, my grandma dying, selling a family farm, legal trouble around an estate battle and challenges at my job.

    On top of that we discovered I had heart troubles. My doctor said Agreed I was becoming depressed and it was a situational problem. I started taking 10mg as I was still on edge and having trouble sleeping. As soon as I started that’s when everything changed. My appetite went from being a health nut to craving things I would never touch.

    I would work out daily and then became someone who was too tired to do anything and sleep all day. In two months I have gained almost 20lbs and having to wear elasticized clothing. I was overweight as a child and at my heaviest was 300lbs. To lose the weight and be 180lbs and in a very short time frame gain… it is making me even more upset. Definitely going to ask for a change as I feel worse now than ever before.

  4. I have been taking amitriptyline for 6 or 7 years. I take it for a severe GI problem called chronic functional abdominal pain that is debilitating without this medication. When I first started I gained 35 lbs then stabilized, a few years later had to increase from 50 mg to 75 and gained 20 more pounds.

    Then at age 31 had my son and my symptoms seemed to stop, I lost weight postpartum after stopping amitriptyline but it only lasted 4 months and had to start taking it again after my symptoms came back with a vengeance and gained more weight.

    I hate being overweight but without this medication I can’t take care of my child. I wish I had other options, it’s really hard to live like this… ?

  5. I was on Amitriptyline and stopped after I gained 16 pounds. The weight came off quickly after I stopped. The disadvantage was my migraines came back full force and I have been suffering from some memory loss. I just can’t go back in and gain the weight again. Not sure what other options there are other then what I’ve tried that hasn’t worked.

  6. I’ve been taking 50mg Amitriptyline for the past month because of sleeping issues. I’m a very disciplined eater and I work out everyday. I’ve been tracking my daily intake and exercise. My weight and body image is something that I’ve always struggled with.

    I’ve gained 10-12 pounds from the time I’ve started the medication until now. I’ve noticed more weight gain than weight loss and the only thing that has changed in my routine is the…Amitriptyline. I wish I would have never taken it.

  7. I have been taking 50mg of amitriptyline for migraine and daily headache prevention for nearly three months. I have gained fifteen pounds on this drug despite lifestyle changes to help with my migraines.

  8. I’m not sure when I started taking Elavil, 25 mg. I take it for migraine prevention. When my migraines seemed to be more frequent, my doctor raised it to 50 mg in September 2016. Since then I have gained 10 pounds and it’s all around my middle. I don’t eat that much but I am tired all the time so no exercise. I am cutting it back to 25 mg as I can’t stand the way my body looks.

  9. I deal with a rare form of migraines, Hemiplegic migraines, I was put on this medication to help me sleep and as preventive measures. I’m only 5″1″ and they have me on a dose of 150mg every night. My neurologist even has it in my file that it has given me a severe sweet tooth and I’m addicted to donuts.

    I actually don’t eat very much and I’ve been keeping the sweets out of my home but still in less than a year, I’ve gone from 123 lbs to 142 lbs and with the bad cravings my bad cholesterol has almost doubled. It’s time to stop before my health gets worse or my self esteem gets any lower.

    • I’ve developed an addiction to donuts too! I’ve never been a donut eater. Before I’d eat them if they were around but now I purposefully stop to get them.

  10. I can so relate to all these comments. I’ve been on 35mg of Elavil since November 2014 after a series of migraines caused a very bad vertigo attack that left me pretty much disabled for a few months. The Elavil worked a treat for the migraines and I’ve led a symptom free, active life.

    However, the weight gain… 13 lbs since November 2014 – so a slow-ish creep… this despite being very active (endurance athlete) and tracking food/eating clean 75% of the time. I’m currently weaning off – 2.5 to 5mg every 4-8 days…and I’m at 10mg.

    I can’t wait to get off this and be able to wear what’s in my closet again!!! Also take CoQ10, magnesium, and B2 on advice of my neurologist, so hoping that protects me from the migraine cycle happening again. But yes, this weight gain is TERRIBLE!!! The hit to my self-confidence has been horrendous!!!!

  11. Been on Elavil for 3weeks @ 10 mg for fibromyalgia pain. It’s a miracle drug for pain relief but I’ve gained 4 pounds in that time. Don’t like this outcome so far… can’t afford a whole new wardrobe. I’ve always been conscious of my diet, but now with the weight creeping up I will have to rethink this regimen.

  12. I was put on Amitriptyline for a paralyzed vocal cord. Started at 60 mg, now down to 20 mg. I gained 12 pounds in the period of July 2016 until now, March 2017. I’m seriously considering reducing the amount I take because I especially do not like this weight gain!

    Had a pituitary tumor removed November 3, 2015 and thought that might have been the culprit, but my weight definitely went up since the Amitriptyline. AUGH!

  13. Hello. I too have gained significant weight while on amitriptyline. I’m on 75mg a night for sleep. After about three weeks, I’m still suffering from insomnia. The amitriptyline gets me to sleep, doesn’t keep me asleep though. So, on top of the sleeplessness, I’ve gained 25 lbs!!

    Very sudden weight gain and increased perspiration – to the point of embarrassment. You’d think with all the sweating I would be dropping in weight – nope! I’m stopping the medication tonight because I feel even worse. I’m 5’3 and being 145 pounds is too much for my small frame. Oh well, back to the drawing board!

    • I too am gaining weight around the middle and sweating way more than normal during my workouts. Was prescribed this drug for migraine. Nobody told me about the weight gain!

  14. I’ve been on this medication for about 7 months now for migraines. While it helps me to control my migraines, it has cause me to gain about 25 – 30 lbs. I’m generally a slim woman, and this has caused me to not recognize myself anymore. I’ve gained weight in places I never have before. I’m so torn, as it has helped so much with my migraines, but I cannot take the excess weight. I need to figure out another solution to the migraine.

    • Mel – I started taking the supplement PQQ 20mg along with CoQ10 200 mg (taken together) and it has really made a difference. I am currently tapering off 75 mg amitriptyline. I’ve been on it for 13 years and have increased dosage twice. I have gained 40 pounds. The supplements leave my brain feeling protected.

      I’m not sure how else to explain it. It’s as if my blood brain barrier has become strong and the excitotoxins that were triggering migraines can’t gain access anymore. It will cost you about $45 on Amazon to try this combo for a month. I felt noticeable results in about 3 weeks. I highly recommend it. I like the brand Dr.’s Best, but I’m sure there are many good brands available.

  15. I took 10mg of Amitriptyline for only three weeks for migraines. I gained 10 pounds and had nightmares and had more headaches. I stopped taking the drug and on week three of no alcohol, sugar, dairy or grain and walking almost every day. I cannot lose this weight. I am so sorry I tried it. If anyone knows what I can do other than this clean diet and exercise, I am all ears. So bummed.

  16. I took amitriptyline for two weeks and gained ten pounds. I immediately discontinued the drug and continue to gain and gain and gain!!! The drug definitely broke something in my metabolism. I am a vegetarian who eats very healthy, juices and almost never eats crap. I NEVER eat fast food.

    I went from 133 pounds to 150 pounds in two months and I feel awful. I have had to buy new clothes which don’t look nice with a distended stomach, arm fat and blubber. I am really researching how to reset my metabolism. Good luck to you all. I will let you know what I learn.

  17. I have a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and have struggled with crippling pain for 10 years. I have tried everything imaginable for the pain. I’ve been on narcotics, OTC pain medications, spinal injections and ketamine (to name a few) with very minimal impact on the pain. At 35 years old, I used to be a kick butt modern day woman that not only was able to take care of myself and my family (financially and otherwise) but I was also able to do construction work.

    I finished my basement (with the exception of hanging and finishing the drywall) myself. I put up the studs, ran the electrical wiring and installed the HVAC. When I had a flood in my kitchen I ripped out the cabinets, tile floor, granite countertops, etc… and then put all the new stuff in (except for the granite countertops) I wasn’t superwoman, I had my issues, but I was pretty darn close to it.

    Life since developing CRPS has been hell. Just doing the grocery shopping put me into a level 7 pain and forget about going out to dinner or the mall. It wasn’t until the movie theaters started installing those new reclining chairs that I could sit through a movie. I also have had weight and body image issues my whole life.

    I know it seems crazy but if my size was higher than a size 4 (American) I considered myself as being too big. Why I feel this way I’m sure has to do with how every woman in magazines, TV, etc… is poker thin among other reasons. I have been seeing a psychiatrist for years and both of us knowing my body image issues wouldn’t entertain the idea of taking Amitriptyline.

    I was on 11 different medications to manage all of the co-morbidities that come along with a CRPS diagnosis. I couldn’t sleep and even started to have hallucinations right before falling asleep and right as I was waking up. It was awful! I went to see a sleep disorder doctor who specialized in treating patients with chronic pain in August of this year, 2016.

    He asked me “have you ever tried…” and began going down the list of treatments and medications used for sleep. My answer to every one of them was yes until he reached the end of his “list” with Amitriptyline. I told him “no” because of my weight gain concerns. He told him to basically “get over it” and try it. After a bit of nagging my psychiatrist he went ahead and prescribed it for me.

    That was in September 2016 when I weighed @ 130 pounds. Today is December 26th 2016 and I’ve been able to drop the number of medications I take down to 5, I sleep soundly and deeply 6+ hours a night, can’t remember the last time I had a hallucination, my pain has gone from an average level of 6 on any given day (with bad days spiking up to a 9 and it crippling me for days) down to a 2 (spiking up to a 7 on a bad day with 100% recovery by the next morning).

    Amitriptyline (for the most part) has been pretty darn close to a miracle (note the “pretty darn close). As I stated before, in September I weighed 130 pounds, 3 months later I weigh 155 pounds! Here’s the most bizarre part of the weight gain. Since I’ve had such an unbelievable decrease in pain, I’ve gone from a couch potato to being a fairly active person. I’m so far behind on my TV shows I don’t think I’ll ever be able to catch up on them, LOL.

    I have a recumbent bike that I ride almost EVERY day for at least an hour on most days and up to an 1 & 1/2 hours on others. I’m constantly moving. When my weight started to go up, I began to record EVERY SINGLE calorie, fat gram, fiber gram and protein gram. I stay between consuming 1300-1500 calories a day and don’t give myself extra calories earned from exercise. Yes, I admit that 1-2 days a week I cheat but not to the tune of an additional 3-4 thousand calories.

    I’m completely stunned! Honestly even without calorie restrictions I thought just my huge increase in activity should have protected me from any significant weight gain. I KNOW I sound completely ridiculous but I’m having a an extremely hard time with this weight gain. The highest dosage I’ve been on of the Amitriptyline so far has been 75mg.

    I’m seriously considering trying to reduce my dosage since I haven’t seen a slowdown in the weight gain yet and am very concerned about how high it will go. Has anyone here been on the Amitriptyline, for a significant time span, long enough to be able to tell me if and when their weight gain leveled off and/or if and when they were able to lose the weight while still on it?

    • Hope you have managed to come off Amit. I’ve been on it for over 30 years, now weigh 16 stones and am only 5 ft 3, age 73, and have a lot of health problems. May be due to meds and weight. Have recently listed my experiences. Luck and love to you. G

  18. I have been on 10mg Amitriptyline for two months as treatment for diet & lifestyle change resistant IBS-D. Whilst it has worked fabulously well for moderation of my symptoms, I have increased my bust by a cup size per month & gained weight overall. I have managed to keep the numbers on the scale largely within the 1-2lb variation (daily exercise & doing 5:2), but there’s no doubt that my body shape has changed (much rounder) all over.

    Obviously, not thrilled about this, but am prepared to stick it out for the 3 month course due to the improvement of the IBS symptoms & try to strip down a bit once weaned. Has anyone successfully weaned off & lost the weight?

  19. I’ve been out it for about 9 months – originally for mild anxiety, but as a special added bonus – it cured my very severe IBS-D! I am a 52 year old male, 5’9″ and prior to Elavil, weighed as little as 127 lbs at the peak of my IBS problem.

    I now way 157 lbs – so I’ve gained 30 lbs in 9 months. I am hungry all of the time, mostly for junk. I started exercising (moderate cardio on a stationary bike – 30 mins 4-5 days/week. As a result of my efforts, I’ve lost approximately 0 lbs, though my waist has stopped expanding.

    I am of course not happy with the weight gain – but will take the trade-off because IBS-D is much worse.

  20. My doctor put me on this to help me sleep. (I have insomnia) 100mg a night. Which it does help me sleep, but I started to notice about 3-4 months after taking it was gaining weight. Now I’m 5 months into it and have gained 17 lbs!! I couldn’t figure out how or why because I haven’t changed anything and I’m a active person!

    I went to a different doctor who told me to look into this medications a little bit more and now it explains so much!! I don’t have depression or anxiety issues, but 3 months into taking this medication my moods change all the time and just so much of the side effects make sense to me now. After finding out that it is such a high does and for depression along with all the side effects it has already put me through I’m done with medication!

  21. I’ve been taking Endep 25mg for 8 months now for anxiety related IBS and have gained 20kg!! I put this down to decrease in exercise but I couldn’t understand my ferocious appetite, I can eat a very decent meal and a short time later I’m hungry again and I crave carbs and sugar all the time.

    I recently made a very real effort to lose weight but ended up putting more on, it was after this that I started to research the drug. I intend on slowly weening myself off as my depression and anxiety over my weight gain far outweighs any benefits.

  22. I have been on 25 mg of amitriptyline for 5 months and this has helped tremendously with my neck pain. It also helps me sleep soundly. However I have severe cravings for sugars, carbs and food in general. I awake at night and find myself going to the refrigerator to satiate my hunger.

    I run regularly but still my cravings and weight gain continue. I have now stopped this drug and the pain has returned. I plan to go back to my doctor for a review.

  23. I just Googled weight gain and Elavil. Wow, lightbulb moment. Been on to help sleep and depression since January. I have gained 7 lbs, have insatiable appetite, especially for carbs and sweets. Obsessed with food. Needed to lose 24 lbs, now this 7 is the worst, right in belly. Asked for Seroquel which is great for sleep in small dose. MD said no, would cause weight gain… Annual exam next month, but taking self off.

  24. I too have gained unwanted weight since starting amitriptyline. I have been taking 20-30mg for ~1.5 years now for visceral hypersensitivity, and as of today have gained 25lbs. My waistline has increased by 5 inches. My stomach is really well controlled currently, but I feel like my overall health has declined because of the weight gain. I intend to try to come off the amitriptyline because of this.

  25. I have been on this medication for over 2 years and have put on 108 pounds but I can’t stand the migraines I get when I go off of this medicine. So I have to put up with being super fat..

  26. I have been on it for about 2.5 years now. I take it for interstitial cystitis and I only need 10-15 mg a day. I am 34 and have been relatively the same weight since high school but when I started taking this I steadily put on weight over the next 2 years. I am now 15-20 pounds over my normal weight. I don’t seem to be gaining any more but the pounds are impossible to lose.

    Dieting and exercise have no effect (and I never had to do either prior to taking these pills). I now have very little motivation to exercise as I never see any results…I mean not one pound lost after working out 4 times a week for 8 months. I wish I could go off of it but if I do I have to pee about 20 times a day so prob not an option. :(

  27. I have only been on low dose (10mg) amitriptyline for three months and on the plus side have slept wonderfully for the first time in my life, but the weight gain is something I can do without. I didn’t realize at first until I reviewed my weekly weight recordings, started searching for answers and found this site that amitriptyline was the problem.

    So thank you for confirmation of my suspicions. I have put on nearly 8kg (over 17lb) in 12 weeks which is disappointing having deliberately lost 21kg(46lb) to avoid getting diabetes. I eat very abstemiously & due to problems with my digestive tract eat very little sugar or starchy carbs which have to be gluten free anyway. With no car, I get plenty of exercise by cycling & walking, so apart from stopping this medication I don’t know what to do.

  28. I have been taking 20 MG for 10 months and have gained 30 lbs in that time. My doctor prescribed this medication to prevent esophagus spasms. I have been spasm free and as a bonus suffer from a fraction of the migraines that I have had in the past. Double-edge sword though… this +30 lbs is depressing!

  29. Hi. I am now getting Botox every 3 months. It is helping more than anything else. When I first started amitrip. I was on 7.5 mg and lost weight. I think it was because it actually gave me energy. I have been on it a year, staying at 135 lbs or below. I have just increased to 15 mg per night and am sleepy all the time! I also now have 2 lbs in my stomach area that is just starting to show up.

    I looked pregnant while on lyrica. I am going to try taking 15 mgs 1 night then 10 mgs the next night to see if it might help with the energy and weight gain. Waaayyyyy bummed!!!! Amitriptyline has helped me a lot. But I have started ending up in the ER for the trigeminal neuralgia I was taking it for and am now back to getting the Botox.

  30. I started 10mg week then 25mg, I’m on it 3 weeks and feel bloated. My tummy is swollen – I am coming off it. My kidney pain has improved but hate the weight.

  31. I have gone from 165 lbs to 180 lbs and have been on Elavil for more than one year. I have recently begun to lose weight very very very slowly, by calorie restriction and the use of an app.

  32. I’ve been on 20mg of this medication for a year for fibromyalgia and nerve pain. I’m not able to do much exercise apart from aqua therapy and strolling with the dogs. I have put on about 5lbs over the last year and was constantly craving carbs, sweets, biscuits etc. If I bought a pkt of anything I ate the lot. Absolutely obsessed with obtaining or making sweet food every day. Recently I was invited to take part in a 6 week stress and mediation course.

    It has changed my life. Not only can I get to sleep without meds I am generally calmer even while caring for 3 family members with a disability.
    For the first time in a year I have been able to eat sensibly. Mostly vegetarian food, fruit, plain yoghurt, etc. I can’t even look at a slice of bread. I did eat 1/2 caramel slice today but felt no desire to eat the rest.

    I practice meditation with use of a CD every evening for about 30-40 minutes. I usually drift off and wake up in the morning feeling as if I’ve had a restful sleep. I put this turnaround to feeling calmer. Mostly I would buy unhealthy food when I was stressed. I am going to try and cut back from 20 mg Amitriptyline to 10mg although I may not have to as I’ve lost 4 lbs in a week. Wish me luck ?

  33. I have been on amitriptyline for many years for mild fibromyalgia. About 15 years ago I was on 150 mg and gained 40 lbs. I was always naturally slim and in shape, so this was devastating. I weaned myself down to 10mg over a period of a few weeks, and the weight disappeared. Now, years later I am still on the 10 mg and have about 10 lbs creep slowly back over the last year or so.

    I consider myself an athlete with daily workouts and I eat a clean, unprocessed, alternative diet. I am wondering whether I should just wean completely off it. It wouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks and it’s about the only thing I can think of that might be the culprit. It also really doesn’t do much for me at this point, and I will never take a higher dose.

  34. I have been on this medication for over 20 years for migraine prevention. And I have been trying to lose weight with no results. I exercise each day and eat healthy. I could not understand why I wasn’t losing weight. I never knew this was a side effect of the drug. Thanks to this article I can now make a decision on whether or not to stay on it.

  35. I have been taking 20mg per night for 18 months, prior to starting these tablets I had lost 50lb with weight watchers. Since starting these tablets I have gained 12 lb despite sticking to the diet, tracking everything I eat and walking where possible. Some days I have less than 500 calories and still can’t drop those extra pounds.

    I’m considering going cold turkey and stopping them. I take them for fibromyalgia and a back injury. I do appreciate the sleep but body confidence is also important for my overall wellbeing

  36. I have been taking Amitriptyline for the past 7ish years. 100mg for the past 1-2 years. I was on 50mg, felt like it didn’t do anything so I went up to 100mg. I’ve gained so much weight. Im only 25 and when I started I was probably at about 130lbs. I am now 170lb. I noticed I began to crave sweets all the time, especially after eating, and I never used to be like that.

    Within the last month I began the process of getting off that and Citalopram and have already noticed a significant change in my weight. I am very surprised. My stomach area has already got smaller and I have a few stretch marks from losing weight pretty quick. Although it has helped, seeing as I’m not as nearly depressed or have as much panic attacks, I feel like the weight gain is just going to keep on.

    My only sister was murdered 9 years ago and it is unsolved and I feel the amitriptyline has helped my mood a lot. I do notice now I am starting to feel more depressed and down, but we’ll just see how it goes.

  37. The neurologist put me on amitriptyline for migraines. He took me off trazodone which I was taking for insomnia. I started with 10mg and worked up to 30mg which I take now. In February, my husband and I went on vacation. The trip was all inclusive so I ate three meals and desserts.

    I had wine with my meals. My weight stayed the same. After vacation, my clothes started to feel tight. When I weighed myself, I found I had gained five pounds. I have gained an additional three pounds. Also the insomnia came back. The neuro doc put me back on 50mg trazodone. I see the neuro doc next week

    My concern is that my primary doc wants me to lose weight because of high cholesterol and I am going in the wrong direction. Any advice would be appreciated.

  38. My PCP started me on Elavil at 10mg every night to treat my IBS-D. I’m a nurse and I couldn’t function for several hours in the morning due to the sedative effects. The grogginess was overwhelming (even though I took the pill at 7pm). Although I was having some anxiety and insomnia from the IBS-D, I felt like 10mg was too much for me.

    I saw my PCP and he asked that I cut the pill in half and continue to take at the same time. The pill enables me to sleep, but the cravings for carbs is driving me crazy and I’m constantly holding onto 4-5lbs of fluid. This has been the first week that I’ve taken the pill for 4 nights in a row and my small frame can’t tolerate this fluid weight. I woke up this morning with my face very swollen.

    I may try to cut my half pill in half and see how that feels, but I managed to lose 50lbs 7yrs ago and keep it off and I do not plan on putting it back on. Also I have noticed some constipation. If I still notice the weight gain and cravings with the 1/4 pill (2.5mg), I think I’ll just try melatonin and Metamucil again. Good luck everyone.

  39. I’m taking 50mg a day at the moment for migraines! My advice to anyone considering amitriptyline would be that yes, it can make you gain weight simply because of cravings pasta, bread, sugar but it gets easier with time. Gaining weight isn’t easy to deal with and definitely wasn’t for me, but if you’re healthy, eat well to balance bad foods and exercise (lifestyle changes which aren’t always easy in the beginning) then a number on a scale doesn’t define who you are. Your mental and physical health is far more important and you have to make the right decision for you, much love.

  40. Hi, I’ve been taking 20mg daily for 3 months for severe nerve pain, due to breast surgery and full lymph removal surgery due to breast cancer. The pain in my arm and breast is greatly improved and now I easily sleep through the night. I haven’t experienced any weight gain or cravings for carbs.

    I put on weight very easily and I put on five pounds when I started taking the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen (which I still take) but I didn’t put on weight with Amitriptyline. So it works well for me, but I am on a low daily dose of 20mg. I hope this helps! It may work for you too.

  41. I took 10g every evening for two months for nerve pain in my back – it worked wonders enabling me to sleep through – however the drowsiness and weight gain were undermining my self-confidence and ability to live life so unfortunately I had to give it up. I put on half a stone (7lbs) mostly around my middle.

    I was always hungry and craved sugar and starch / this combined with fatigue resulted in my weight gain and as someone who suffered with eating disorders as a teenager this is not something I could tolerate. I’ve been off amitriptyline for a couple of weeks now and my cravings have reduced along with my appetite so I can slowly see my frame appearing from underneath the acquired layer if fat!

  42. I was prescribed Pamelor after being in a hospital for 6 days from a suicide attempt. I began to feel very hungry and could never be satisfied with what I ate. My weight just blew up. I tried to convince my GP that is was the med, which he didn’t believe. So my psychiatrist changed my meds. I don’t feel as good as I did on it, but I am not gaining any more weight. But I am working at trying to lose it. At 57 it’s pretty hard to lose 50 lbs. BTW, I was taking 75mg day.

  43. I have been on this drug at 1/2 a 75mg (as close to half as possible) a night for 6 weeks and have gained 16 lbs. I watch my calories closely after having lost 35 lbs (intent on the last 10… until now) and have changed very little about my diet other than noticing more cravings for sugar and/or bread and giving in now and again but still within my limits. This is the first anti-depressant I have been on in 10+ years.

    My main reasons for taking it were migraines and anxiety, the side benefits for depression and IBS also drew me to go back on it for the first time since teen years. I have noticed my migraines are less and my mood is slightly better, but not enough to stay on it with the excessive weight gain and the return of panic attacks that I had well under control.

    I also have lupus and take Plaquenil and a variety of supplements so I am not sure if there is any bad mix there, but my doctor was confident there wasn’t. I stopped taking amitriptyline yesterday so will be keeping a close eye on weight and symptoms afterwards.

  44. I have been on amitriptyline for a year now, 100 mg a night for migraine. I am so gutted because I go to slimming world and I have lost 4 stone 5 pounds, but it is so so so slow. I see people getting on the scales losing 2, 3, 4, 5, pounds in a week, me it’s half a pound, or a gain.

    Even though I am really good with my diet, my husband is just amazed with my willpower, but it is getting me down now. I know people say, oh but you are doing so well, I just get frustrated that for all my hard work I am getting little reward. Anyone else going through this?

  45. Finally, I know why I’ve gained 15 pounds in the last 6 months. I take 25mg of Elavil at night for nerve pain and to help me sleep. I developed RSD after a wrist surgery last winter and have had a tough road but the Elavil wasn’t helping with the pain, I kept taking it because it helped me sleep and I was not aware of this side effect.

    I am tapering my dosage and going to see my doc next week for other options. This has been so frustrating, wish I had of known about the side effects. So Thankful I found these posts.

  46. I am so happy reading this… I couldn’t understand why I was gaining so much weight this past year and had NO IDEA that Amitriptyline was the cause. I’ve been on it for 4 years now increasing the dosage each year due to headaches and anxiety. I didn’t notice any weight gain when I was at 25 and even 50 mg but when I bumped up twice in one year to 75 and then 100… BAM I had gained 12 lbs (which is so not normal for me).

    I couldn’t figure out what the hell was happening. I met w/my doctor about the weight gain and she told me this was a side effect which I never knew. Now I am hoping she can get me on something else that helps not only w/the migraines but w/the anxiety as well. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one experiencing this nightmare.

  47. I just started this drug and am less hungry than usual and actually can’t seem to finish my meals (which) are smaller. I will watch for appetite changes and any other of these negative side effects!

  48. I take 40mg of amitriptyline and have done so for the last month and have already gained 7 pounds! I cannot stop eating. Mainly carbs and sweet things. It’s lifted my mood but not sure the increase in waistline is helpful.


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