Amytriptyline (Elavil)

Amytriptyline or Elavil is a commonly used tricyclic ‘antidepressant’ that blocks serotonin and norepinephrine uptake leaving more of those neurotransmitters available for use in the central nervous system. (Serotonin is often referred to as the ‘good feeling’ chemical). Like several other ‘antidepressants’ Elavil used to treat many symptoms other than depression including insomnia, migraine, PTSD, a number of ‘central sensitivity syndromes’ (fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cytisus, vulvodynia), peripheral neuropathy, multiple sclerosis. It has been on the market since 1983.

Amytrityline May Be Beneficial In Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Because – it can increase the levels of neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine) that may be low in some patients. It may also increase patient’s pain thresholds by increasing central nervous system norepinephrine levels. It is often used to assist with sleep.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Studies: none. A 1986 fibromyalgia study found that Elavil improved pain, sleep, fatigue upon awakening and tender points.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Doctors Report: Dr. Lapp noted that antidepressants, including Elavil, had proven useful in improving sleep, energy levels and cognition and in reducing pain in many of his patients.

Dosage: as with many medications of this type ME/CFS patients often respond well to much lower doses than are traditionally used. Dr. Lapp recommends starting at 1/3 to 1/2 (or even lower) the recommended dose.

Side Effects: Dr. Lapp notes that while Elavil does induce sleep it can reduce the amount of deep sleep one enters into – thus possibly impairing its long term effectiveness.

Common side effects in the general population include weight gain, dry mouth, loss of appetite, drowsiness, muscle stiffness, nausea, constipation, nervousness, dizziness, blurred vision, urinary retention and insomnia. Some rare side effects include tinnitus, hypotension, mania, psychosis, heart block, arrhythmias, lip and mouth ulcers, extrapyramidal symptoms,depression, and hepatic toxicity. In those susceptible to them it can increase the risk of seizure. (This list is not complete).


The Phoenix Rising website is compiled by a layman. It is not a substitute for a physician and is for informational uses only. It does not present complete information on this drug. Please discuss any treatments in these pages with your physician.

Back to Sleep Drugs / Back to Treatment Intro


Charles Lapp. 2001. Using antidepressants to treat chronic fatigue syndrome.

Amytriptyline Wickipedia

Share this!