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Does Amitriptyline cause weight gain?

5th March 2020

Amitriptyline is part of a group of medicines called tricyclic antidepressants. Like all medicines, it can cause side effects and the one that people often worry about is whether or not it can cause you to put on weight.

Can Amitriptyline cause weight gain?

One of the side effects of Amitriptyline is that it can have an effect on your appetite. For some people, it can make them feel more hungry, which in turn can lead to weight gain. However, for other people, it can have the opposite effect and may actually decrease appetite.

Even though taking an antidepressant can lead to weight gain, the medication itself is not always the root cause. For example, depression itself can manifest as overeating and inactivity which can cause weight gain. On the other hand, some people lose weight as a cause of depression and so finding a successful treatment (such as Amitriptyline) can result in increased weight.

If you are concerned about weight gain then a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise could help to remedy this. However, if you’re obese and diet and exercise alone haven't helped then you may be eligible to try weight loss medication such as Orlistat or Xenical.

What is Amitriptyline?

Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant that was originally approved in the 1980s. It’s rarely prescribed for depression any more though, as newer antidepressants (such as SSRI’s) are less likely to cause side effects.

Instead, it’s now prescribed for a number of other uses such as neuropathic pain, ADHD and migraine prevention (for regular sufferers).

Side effects of Amitriptyline

As well as weight gain, Amitriptyline could cause a number of other side effects. Your doctor may advise you to split your doses throughout the day, to try and minimise the risk of experiencing these.

Constipation is a common side effect and you can try and avoid this by eating a high-fibre diet (filled with fruits, vegetables and wholegrains) and drinking plenty of water. If you find that you are still experiencing constipation then an over-the-counter laxative may help.

Amitriptyline is also known to make you feel sleepy or drowsy. For this reason, you should take your dose at night (before you go to sleep) and avoid driving if you don’t feel alert. Also, avoid drinking alcohol while taking Amitriptyline, as this can make things worse.

Other common side effects include dry mouth, dizziness and difficulty peeing. If you are ever worried about side effects of any medications that you are taking then you discuss this with your doctor.