Nortriptyline (By mouth)
Treats depression. This medicine is a tricyclic antidepressant.
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
Do not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to nortriptyline or similar medicines such as amitriptyline, doxepin, Elavil®, or Sinequan®. Do not use this medicine if you currently use an MAO inhibitor (MAOI) such as Eldepryl®, linezolid (Zyvox®), Marplan®, methylene blue, Nardil®, or Parnate® or have used an MAOI in the past 14 days. Do not use this medicine if you have had a recent heart attack.
How to Use This Medicine
- Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Your dose may need to be changed several times in order to find out what works best for you. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
- Measure the oral liquid medicine with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup.
- This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Ask your pharmacist for the Medication Guide if you do not have one.
If a dose is missed:
- If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine
- Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
- Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
- Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you use buspirone (Buspar®), chlorpropamide (Diabenese®), cimetidine (Tagamet®), fentanyl (Sublimaze®), lithium (Eskalith®, Lithobid®), reserpine, St John's wort, tryptophan, thyroid medicines, a phenothiazine medicine (such as promethazine, Phenergan®, Thorazine®), certain medicine for heart rhythm problem (such as flecainide, propafenone, quinidine, Rythmol®, Tambocor®), pain or migraine medicines (such as sumatriptan, tramadol, Frova®, Maxalt®, Relpax®, Zomig®), or other medicines to treat depression (such as fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline).
- Alcohol, narcotic pain relievers, or sleeping pills may cause you to feel more lightheaded, dizzy, or faint when used with this medicine. Tell your doctor if you drink alcohol or use pain relievers or sleeping pills.
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have heart disease, heart rhythm problems, glaucoma, mood or mental problems, an overactive thyroid, trouble urinating, or a history of seizures.
- For some children, teenagers, and young adults, this medicine can increase thoughts of suicide. Tell your doctor right away if you start to feel more depressed and have thoughts about hurting yourself. Report any unusual thoughts or behaviors that trouble you, especially if they are new or are getting worse quickly. Let the doctor know if you or anyone in your family has bipolar disorder (manic-depressive) or has tried to commit suicide.
- Check with your doctor right away if you have anxiety, restlessness, a fast heartbeat, fever, sweating, muscle spasms, twitching, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or see or hear things that are not there. These may be symptoms of a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. Your risk may be higher if you also take other medicines that affect serotonin levels in your body.
- This medicine may make you dizzy. Do not drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.
- Do not stop using this medicine suddenly without asking your doctor. You may need to slowly decrease your dose before stopping it completely.
- Make sure any doctor or dentist who treats you knows that you are using this medicine. You may need to stop using this medicine several days before having surgery or medical tests.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
- Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
- Anxiety, restlessness, nervousness, mood or mental changes
- Change in how much or how often you urinate, problems urinating
- Changes in behavior, thoughts of hurting yourself or others
- Chest pain
- Fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeat
- Lightheadedness or fainting
- Numbness or weakness in your arm, leg, or one side of your body, problems with vision, speech, or walking
- Seizures or tremors
- Severe confusion, seeing or hearing things that are not there
- Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
- Twitching or muscle movements you cannot control
- Yellow skin or eyes
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain or upset
- Dry mouth
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088
- Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013
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This page was last updated: June 18, 2013