An Overview on TCAs (Tricyclic Antidepressants)


TCAs came into existence in the late 1950s and they are also called cyclic antidepressants or tricyclic antidepressants. They were the first approved drugs and still considered as the effective antidepressants for treating depression. These drugs are preferable for people who are resistant to other drugs for the treatment of depression. The reason these drugs are not preferred for initial treatment is that the side effects are intolerable for some people despite the fact that antidepressants can be effective.

Available TCAs in Health Stores

Trimipramine, Amitriptyline, Protriptyline, Amoxapine, Nortriptyline, Desipramine, Maprotiline, Doxepin, and Imipramine are the different types of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) that are currently available in the health stores.

How TCAs Work

Usually, doctors will prescribe this medication to patients only when other alternative medications have failed to relieve the problem. These drugs can help you to maintain more serotonin and norepinephrine levels available to your brain.

Before using this drug for treating depression, TCAs are used to treat other conditions as well. These conditions include:

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Chronic Bedwetting
  • Migraines
  • Chronic Pain
  • Panic Disorder

Although Tricyclic antidepressants are used in the treatment of depression, they have other effects on your body such as automatic muscle movement and blocking the effects of histamine. Blockage of histamine due to the TCAs can cause problems like

What are the Side effects caused by Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)?

Dry mouth, urinary retention, dry eyes, constipation, blurred vision, seizure, headache, disorientation, fatigue, headache, obesity, drowsiness, erectile dysfunction, low blood pressure, nausea are the common side effects caused by TCAs. Changing to another cyclic antidepressant may lower the side effects but talk to your doctor before switching to another medication.


It’s better not to take tricyclic antidepressants if you are addicted to alcohol. The effect of an antidepressant is minimalized with the consumption of alcohol and also the sedating effect increases.

Following are the medications that can cause severe side effects if you take along with tricyclic antidepressants. These include

  • Epinephrine (Epi-Pen)
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)

The use of the Tricyclic antidepressants can lead to the growth of epinephrine on your heart which in turn, leads to hypertension and increase complications in your heart rate.

It’s important for you to discuss with your doctor about the other medications you take because tricyclic antidepressant drugs interact with many drugs and substances.

About use with other conditions

You should avoid taking tricyclic antidepressants if you are suffering from thyroid problems, enlarged prostate, angle-closure glaucoma, urinary retention, heart problems as it will make your condition even worse.

People who are suffering from diabetes, blood sugar also should talk with their doctor before using these drugs.

Have a word with your physician

TCAs can relieve depression, but this drug is specific to each person. Your doctor may not recommend this antidepressant drugs to you due to their potential side effects.

If you notice any changes in your body or side effects, talk with your physician immediately. Your doctor may change the dosage of the drug or he will switch you to other medications. You may experience nausea, headache, dizziness, lethargy, and flu-like symptoms if you stop taking the tricyclic antidepressants suddenly.

It’s better to talk to your doctor before you would like to make any changes to your medication.



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