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Tricyclic antidepressants

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Tricyclic antidepressants are widely prescribed drugs which are effective in treating depression and a range of other disorders.

Tricyclic antidepressants should be used with care because they are dangerous in overdose.

The choice of a particular tricyclic is usually made according to the spectrum of side-effects for each compound:

  • sedative tricylcics e.g. amitriptyline are used where sleep disturbance and anxiety are predominant
  • imipramine, which is non-sedating or stimulating, is used where psychomotor retardation is predominant
  • lofepramine is used in patients who:
    • cannot tolerate side-effects
    • are at risk of deliberate self-harm by overdosage

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