Tricyclic Antidepressants

What are Tricyclic Antidepressants?

Tricyclic Antidepressants – TCAs – are heterocyclic chemical compounds, and are used chiefly as an antidepressant. First discovered in the 1950s, they were almost mainstream by the end of the 50s. Here is a list of things which you will find with TCAs, their power, and everything else!

What are they?

Prescription drugs, used to treat depression and serious, chronic pain. They are not addictive and were used regularly up until the improvement of the drug-type, bringing us updates like Selective Sorotonin Reputake Inhibitors.

How do you take them?

You can get TCAs in a few formats. The most common format is in tablet form – taken orally – but people who struggle swallowing tablets can ask for a liquid equivalent, taken intravenously, and you can also take it in injection form if need be. Some commonly used tricyclic antidepressants are amitriptyline (Elavil), desipramine (Norpramin), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), and protriptyline (Vivactil).

Signs of usage – side effects

You can have a list of side-effects for taking these drugs, and they are;

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Increased appetite – eating more than usual
  • Weight gain

If you are on TCAs, then please be aware that you can have these symptoms, so be aware of them and if you do get the side-effects, do not allow it to worry you; it is only the drug’s effects.

Withdrawal symptoms

They are not addictive, but stopping treatment or taking them in abrupt and strange patterns can cause symptoms including;

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy


They can cause some mental adjustments too. You can suffer from increased agitation, easily irritated, as well as other abnormal problems you can suffer from. However, beware of the side-effects of;

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Bouts of depression
  • Sensitive skin
  • Rashes
  • Itches
  • Severe sunburn

An overdose of TCA can also result in severe nervous system depression, which is also the most common cause of death in the entire prescription drug industry.


Prescription abuse is definitely on the use due to the difficulty in getting recreational drugs, so people are trying to get over problems and addictions to other drugs by becoming stuck on TCAs. Due to the lack of addiction, an improper use, combining TCAs with other drugs or alcohol, can be very serious and potentially fatal, so beware and do not take any other drugs or drink alcohol when on TCAs.

Recent Changes

If you combine the use of TCAs and opiates, you can suffer from a feeling of euphoria, and serious hallucinations. They are widely available through the internet and by prescription from your GP, if he believes that you may need them. They have been replaced in recent years with antidepressants like Selective Sorotonin Reputake Inhibitors – SSRIs – and Seretonini-Neropinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors – SNRIs – which typically have better side-effects.

Urine Drug Test for Tricyclic Antidepressants

A urine drug test for Tricyclic Antidepressants will normally have a cut-off for TCA of 300ng/ml. The drugs can be detected in urine for a period of 6 -10 days depending on the duration of drug use.

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2013.

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Tricyclic Antidepressants

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