Elavil treats depression. Can cause weight gain and drowsiness. It is not recommended in those with certain heart conditions.
Elavil is a prescription medication used to treat the symptoms of depression. Elavil belongs to a group of drugs called tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), which work by adjusting the levels of natural chemicals in the brain.
This medication comes in tablet form and may be taken once or multiple times a day, depending on your doctor’s instructions.
Common side effects of Elavil include nausea, vomiting, and weakness.
Elavil can cause drowsiness and dizziness. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how Elavil affects you. Do not drink alcohol while taking Elavil.
Brand name Elavil tablets are no longer available. Generic versions are made available by several manufacturers.
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Elavil Cautionary Labels
Uses of Elavil
Elavil is a prescription medication used to treat symptoms of depression.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Elavil Drug Class
Elavil is part of the drug class:
Side Effects of Elavil
Serious side effects have been reported with Elavil. See “Drug Precautions” section.
Common side effects of Elavil include:
- dry mouth
- blurred vision
- change in appetite and weight
- trouble urinating
- pain or tingling in the hands or feet
- changes in sex drive
- excessive sweating
- orthostatic hypotension
- tachycardia (fast heart beat)
This is not a complete list of Elavil side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take:
- monoamine oxide (MAO) inhibitors such as selegiline (Emsam) and phenelzine (Nardil)
- cimetidine (Tagamet)
- disulfiram (Antabuse)
- quinidine (Quinidex)
- anti-arrhythmic drugs such as flecainide (Tambocor) and propafenone (Rythmol)
- barbiturates such as phenobarbital (Donnatal)
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as citalopram (Celexa) and fluoxetine (Prozac)
- pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)
This is not a complete list of Elavil drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Serious side effects have been reported with Elavil including:
- Increased risk of psychosis in schizophrenic patients: Elavil can increase the symptoms of schizophrenia.
- Worsening of depression or suicide risk: Elavil may worsen depression or cause suicidal thoughts and behavior before medication has its full effect.
- Watch for signs of changed behavior such as increased agitation, anxiety, insomnia, aggressiveness, impulsivity, hostility, or desire to end one's life.
- Bipolar disorder: Elavil can worsen symptoms of bipolar disorder.
- Screening for bipolar disorder should occur in patients diagnosed with depression before starting Elavil.
- Surgery: Elavil should be discontinued several days before any surgery.
- Electroshock therapy: Elavil together with electroshock therapy may increase the risks of electroshock therapy (e.g. memory loss, confusion)
- Abnormal glucose levels: Elavil can increase or decrease blood sugar levels.
- Decreased liver function: Elavil should be used with caution in patients with liver disease.
- Seizures: Elavil may increase the risk of seizure activity.
- Urinary retention: Elavil may increase the risk of urinary retention (not able to urinate).
- Glaucoma or intraocular pressure: Elavil may increase the risk of urinary retention (increased pressure within the eye).
- Heart disease: Elavil can increase your risk for certain heart problems such as heart attack, arrhythmia (rapid heart rate or rhythm), and stroke.
- Hypersensitivity reaction: An allergic reaction to Elavil can occur. Symptoms of a hypersensitivity reaction include:
- itchy skin
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
Elavil can cause drowsiness. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how Elavil affects you.
Do not take Elavil if you:
- are allergic to Elavil
- have taken monoamine oxide (MAO) inhibitors such as selegiline (Emsam) and phenelzine (Nardil) within the past 14 days; use of fluoxetine (Prozac) may require more than 14 days before starting Elavil
- have recently experienced a heart attack
- are taking cisapride
Elavil Food Interactions
Medicines can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of Elavil, there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving Elavil.
Before taking Elavil, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions. Especially tell your doctor if you:
- are allergic to Elavil
- have taken monoamine oxide (MAO) inhibitors such as selegiline (Emsam) and phenelzine (Nardil) within the past 14 days, or have taken fluoxetine within the past 5 weeks
- take cisapride (Propulsid)
- have schizophrenia
- have diabetes
- have an enlarged prostate
- have difficulty urinating
- have a history of glaucoma
- have a history of seizures
- have a history of liver disease
- have a history of heart disease
- have hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid
- have undergone or will undergo a surgical procedure
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Elavil and Pregnancy
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.
Elavil falls into category C. It is not known if Elavil will harm your unborn baby. This medication may be given to a pregnant woman if her healthcare provider believes that its benefits to the pregnant woman outweigh any possible risks to her unborn baby.
Elavil and Lactation
Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.
You should not take Elavil if you are breastfeeding. It can be excreted in your breast milk and may harm your nursing child.
Take Elavil exactly as prescribed.
This medication comes in tablet form and is taken once or more times per day, with or without food.
Your doctor may suggest taking Elavil at bedtime.
If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses of Elavil at the same time.
Take Elavil exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.
Your doctor will prescribe the appropriate dose and schedule of Elavil depending on your condition, age, and response to the medication. Doses of Elavil may range from 10 to 150 mg a day. The maximum daily dose of Elavil in the hospital setting is 300 mg a day.
If you take too much Elavil call your healthcare provider or local Poison Control Center, or seek emergency medical attention right away.
Store Elavil at room temperature.
Keep in a tight, light-resistant container.
Keep this and all medicines out of the reach of children.
Elavil FDA Warning
Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies of major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psyciatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of Elavil tablets or any other antidepressant in a child, adolescent, or young adult must balance this risk with the clinical need. Short-term studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidality with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults beyond age 24; there was a reduction in risk with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults aged 65 and older. Depression and certain other psychiatric disorders are themselves associated with increases in the risk of suicide. Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. Families and caregivers should be advised of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber. Elavil is not approved for use in pediatric patients.