When you start taking amitriptyline

Take amitriptyline in the evening or before you go to bed, because it can make you feel sleepy. 

You might start to feel better within a few weeks. But it can take 6 weeks for amitriptyline to reduce the amount of pain you feel.

Talk to your GP if you're thinking of stopping taking amitriptyline. It can cause extra side effects if you stop taking it suddenly. 

It's best to stop drinking alcohol while you're taking amitriptyline. Drinking alcohol with amitriptyline can make you sleepy and more unsteady on your feet.

Check if you can take amitriptyline

Check with a GP or pharmacist before starting to take amitriptyline if you:

  • already have a medical condition, including any problems with your heart or liver
  • are taking any other medicines or have taken any in the last 14 days
  • have had an allergic reaction to medicine in the past
  • have thoughts about harming yourself or ending your life
  • are trying to get pregnant, already pregnant or breastfeeding 

Do not give amitriptyline to children or anyone aged 18 or under unless your GP advises it.

Pregnant and amitriptyline

Talk to your GP before taking amitriptyline if you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or trying for to get pregnant.

Amitriptyline is not recommended during pregnancy unless your GP thinks its benefits outweigh the risks.

It has been linked with a small risk of problems for the unborn baby if you take it in early or late pregnancy.

Breastfeeding and amitriptyline

Talk to your GP before taking amitriptyline if you're breastfeeding.

Amitriptyline passes into breast milk. It's been linked with side effects like sleepiness in breastfed infants. 

Your GP may prescribe other painkillers you can take instead.


Amitriptyline may change your blood sugar level if you have diabetes.

Monitor your blood sugar more often for the first few weeks of taking amitriptyline. Talk to a GP about your results. They may make changes to your diabetes treatment if needed.

Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about your blood sugar levels.

How and when to take amitriptyline

Always take amitriptyline exactly as you have been told. Follow the instructions on the medicine label or ask your GP, a pharmacist or a nurse if you're unsure.

Swallow the tablets with a drink of water. Do not chew them.

Most people take amitriptyline once a day before bedtime because it can make you feel sleepy.

If you find that you’re still feeling drowsy in the morning, you could try taking it earlier in the evening.

Amitriptyline does not usually upset your stomach so you can take it with or without food.

If amitriptyline makes you sleepy or dizzy, do not drive or use tools or machinery.

If you forget to take it 

Never take 2 doses at the same time. Never take an extra dose to make up for a forgotten dose.

If you forget a dose, leave out the missed dose and take your next dose as normal.

Side effects

Some of the side effects of amitriptyline will gradually improve as your body gets used to it.

Keep taking the medicine but talk to your GP, a pharmacist or nurse if side effects bother you or do not go away.

Side effects include:

  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • feeling sleepy
  • difficulty peeing
  • headache

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