Antidepressants, tricyclic

Tricyclic antidepressants are medicines that relieve mental depression. Sincetheir discovery in the 1950s, tricyclic antidepressants have been used to treat mental depression. Like other antidepressant drugs, they reduce symptomssuch as extreme sadness, hopelessness, and lack of energy. Some tricyclic antidepressants are also used to treat bulimia, cocaine withdrawal, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, certain types of chronic pain, and bed-wetting in children.

Named for their three-ring chemical structure, tricyclic antidepressants workby correcting chemical imbalances in the brain. But because they also affectother chemicals throughout the body, these drugs may produce many unwanted side effects. Tricyclic antidepressants are available only with a physician'sprescription and are sold in tablet, capsule, liquid, and injectable forms. Some commonly used tricyclic antidepressants are amitriptyline (Elavil), desipramine (Norpramin), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), and protriptyline (Vivactil). Different drugs in this family have different effects, and physicians can choose the drug that best fits the patient's symptoms.

The recommended dosage depends on many factors, including the patient's age,weight, general health and symptoms. The type of tricyclic antidepressant andits strength also must be considered. Check with the physician who prescribed the drug or the pharmacist who filled the prescription for the correct dosage. Always take tricyclic antidepressants exactly as directed. Never take larger or more frequent doses, and do not take the drug for longer than directed. Do not stop taking the medicine just because it does not seem to be working. Visit the physician as often as recommended so that the physician can checkto see if the drug is working and to note for side effects.

Some people feel drowsy, dizzy, or lightheaded, when taking these drugs. Thedrugs may also cause blurred vision. Anyone who takes these drugs should notdrive, use machines or do anything else that might be dangerous until they have found out how the drugs affect them. Anyone taking tricyclic antidepressants should check with his or her physician before drinking alcohol or taking any drugs that cause drowsiness.

Tricyclic antidepressants may interact with medicines used during surgery, dental procedures, or emergency treatment. These interactions could increase the chance of side effects. Anyone who is taking tricyclic antidepressants should be sure to tell the health care professional in charge before having any surgical or dental procedures or receiving emergency treatment. These drugs may also change the results of medical tests. Before having medical tests, anyone taking this medicine should alert the health care professional in charge.They may increase sensitivity to sunlight. Even brief exposure to sun can cause a severe sunburn or a rash. Hence adequate precautions need to be taken. The physician should also be told about any allergies to foods, dyes, preservatives, or other substances.

Problems have been reported in babies whose mothers took tricyclic antidepressants just before delivery. Women who are pregnant or who may become pregnantshould check with their physicians about the safety of using tricyclic antidepressants. Tricyclic antidepressants pass into breast milk and may cause drowsiness in nursing babies whose mothers take the drugs. Women who are breastfeeding should check with their physicians before using tricyclic antidepressants.

Taking tricyclic antidepressants with certain other drugs may affect the waythe drugs work or may increase the chance of side effects. The most common side effects are dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, unpleasant taste, headache,nausea, mild tiredness or weakness, increased appetite or craving for sweets,and weight gain. These problems usually go away as the body adjusts to the drug and do not require medical treatment. If any unusual side effects occur,check with the physician who prescribed the medicine as soon as possible.

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