For those suffering from chronic pain of any sort, new pain medications can be a blessing and a curse.
Getting some new medicine that could potentially give you your life back is always a cause for celebration, but the inherent side effects that inevitably come with those new medicines… Not so much.
Sometimes the side effects are not so bad: occasional nausea, fleeting headaches, and other slight issues.
If your side effects are not so bad, it is worth taking the new medication, especially if it helps your chronic pain.
Amitriptyline: a new pain relief drug
Some people may be familiar with amitriptyline as an antidepressant. It is actually the most commonly used tricyclic antidepressant drug in the current world of medicine.
It is often commonly used to reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder and other mental disorders.
However, in small doses, it can be used for chronic pain relief of all different sorts. It is most commonly used to fight headaches and migraines of varying severity and, although it does not always provide adequate pain relief to all those who suffer from chronic pain, the majority of people who take amitriptyline feel the effects very soon.
It is a drug that needs to build up in the system before it is effective, so remember to take the dosage as often as you are instructed to by your doctor and wait for a few days to a few weeks to see the results.
Amitriptyline side effects
Unfortunately, of course, with all good pain relief medications, there are side effects.
There is a range of different side effects associated with amitriptyline and, although most people only experience a couple and they are usually fairly minor side effects, sometimes they can be extremely severe.
If you do start experiencing any of the side effects of amitriptyline at all consult your doctor and ask for their advice on whether you need new pain medication, whether you need to lower your dose of amitriptyline or whether you simply need to wait for a while for the side effects to subside.
Amongst the most common of the side effects (although less than 1% of all people who take amitriptyline will experience these so-called ‘common’ side effects), dizziness caused by this drug can leave you feeling woozy and unstable. Simply sit down and put your head between your legs if you can.
The feeling of being dizzy should not last too long, and most people can just wait it out and then continue on with their day.
However, if this side effect persists, you may need to talk to your doctor about either changing your dosage or changing the medication.
In and of itself, dizziness is not a problematic side effect, however, so if you do suffer from it whilst taking amitriptyline, do not panic.
Although amitriptyline is often used to treat the pain of headaches and migraines, it can, in fact, induce headaches.
These can range from very minor to quite severe, and it is worth getting in touch with your doctor if you are having further trouble with pain as a result of the side effects of amitriptyline.
However, often the headaches do not persist for long, so often your doctor will encourage you to keep taking the medication – often at a lowered dosage, at least for a short period of time – rather than change the medications altogether.
3- Weight gain
Many drugs have a side effect of slight weight gain and, like the dizziness and headaches, there is no underlying problem that you need to worry about if you start experiencing this.
Simply take care to eat more healthily and try to exercise more regularly in order to combat the weight gain.
If you are really concerned about putting on a bit of extra weight, or if the weight gain is quite severe, do not stop taking the medication.
Instead, schedule an appointment to see your doctor first and discuss the issues with them.
This side effect is not as common as dizziness, headaches or weight gain, and it can be a little more serious.
The term ‘delirium’ encompasses cognitive deficits such as being hyperactive or very tired all the time as well as referring to disturbed patterns of sleep and, in more extreme cases, hallucinations, both audio and visual.
If you start experiencing any of these sorts of symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
5- Mood swings
As amitriptyline is an antidepressant, it can seriously affect your mood, even in smaller doses (it is only given as an antidepressant in larger doses).
You might find that, whilst you are on this medication, you are more prone to various types of mood swings, including feeling happy one moment and sad the next.
People sometimes also complain of increased anxiety in various situations, such as social encounters, as well as agitation.
6- Cardiovascular complications
Among the most serious side effects of amitriptyline are the cardiovascular complications that can arise as a result of taking this medication.
Orthostatic hypotension (otherwise known as a ‘dizzy spell’) occurs as a result of low blood sugar but can be very dangerous, particularly if occurs quite a lot.
Sinus tachycardia, too, is the increase in the rate of your heartbeat and is another (albeit rare) side effect of amitriptyline.
7- Changes in your libido
Like many other antidepressants, taking amitriptyline can cause you to lose your sex drive or can even cause impotence in men.
Make sure that you communicate this to your doctor if it is a problem, as this is a serious side effect and can be treated.
If you want to go on other medication, you can always ask your physician, but do not just stop taking your medicine with no warning.
8- Insomnia or tiredness
Some people will feel either very sleepy whilst taking amitriptyline or be completely unable to sleep. If this persists, talk to your doctor.