Amitriptyline Withdrawal: How To Stop Taking Elavil

Last Updated: February 7, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Similar to other antidepressants, Elavil withdrawal symptoms are quite common upon cessation of drug use. While the severity of symptoms is not as bad compared to other drugs, they can still be discomforting.

How To Stop Taking Amitriptyline?

While there are several other factors that may influence the severity of amitriptyline withdrawal symptoms, how quickly one tapers is extremely important.

Stopping amitriptyline should be done gradually with the help and supervision of an experienced medical professional. Tapering can help the body adjust to sobriety, allowing patients to find relief from several severe withdrawal adverse effects.

Amitriptyline Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal is a group of symptoms that occur upon the abrupt cessation or decrease in dosage of medications or recreational drugs. Amitriptyline withdrawal symptoms are often caused by the changes in neurochemistry after drug cessation. When someone starts taking Elavil, the brain and the central nervous system (CNS) adjust to its effects. Soon after, they rely upon Elavil’s regular presence to balance neurotransmitter concentrations and receptor activities. In other words, the body has already developed a dependence on amitriptyline, which normally is a result of long-term or recreational use.

Coming off amitriptyline will require both the brain and the CNS to transit back to functioning without the drug. During this phase, neurotransmission can become unstable or erratic, provoking amitriptyline adverse effects related to stopping the dug. Additionally, some of the amitriptyline common side effects may aggravate during the stopping period.

Elavil withdrawal symptoms can manifest as follow:

Physical Symptoms

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Appetite loss
  • Muscle aches
  • Aching joints

Mild Psychological Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Problems with concentration
  • Memory problems
  • Hypersensitivity to lights or sound
  • Mood swings

 Severe Psychological Symptoms

  • Severe depression
  • Feelings of depersonalization
  • Panic attacks
  • Suicidality

How Long Do Amitriptyline Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Amitriptyline, Elavil generic name, can stay in the body between 4 to 21 days after the last dose. The amitriptyline withdrawal timeline may vary greatly. Some people may require a longer time to eliminate Elavil from their bodies, while others experience a delay in the onset of symptoms. Normally, Elavil should be out of the body within 3 weeks after the last dose. If the negative reactions last longer, it is best to speak to a doctor.

Two important factors that affect the duration of amitriptyline withdrawal symptoms include the length of use and the dosage. In general, patients who took high doses of amitriptyline for an extended period of time will often take longer to feel normal again. On the other hand, users of low doses for a few weeks or months are expected to be free from symptoms within 2-3 weeks. However, the period of getting back in shape depends on many factors and may vary drastically.

Elavil withdrawal timeline

Though individual variability may be involved, the general pattern of amitriptyline withdrawal duration can be as follows:

  • The symptoms will start to appear within 3-7 days after the last dose.
  • They are often mild and should resolve quickly.
  • Patients undergoing Elavil withdrawal often complain of flu-like symptoms.
  • Patients presenting with severe psychological side effects may require further treatment.

Managing Amitriptyline Withdrawal Symptoms

To safely manage Elavil withdrawal symptoms, one has to gradually reduce the drug dose as recommended by healthcare professionals. This will help relieve the discomfort and allows the body to accept lower doses.

Also, it is important to keep a healthy and active lifestyle. Regular physical activities, eating well, meditate, and socializing – these things can help a person get through amitriptyline withdrawal physically and mentally.

Supplements like probiotics, N-acetyl-cysteine, L-Tryptophan, Krill oil, etc. can also be used to help minimize the severities of amitriptyline withdrawal symptoms or expedite recovery. However, it is recommended to consult a doctor before trying any of these supplements to prevent allergy.

medications to help with Elavil withdrawal

Medications To Help Facilitate Elavil Detox

Coming off amitriptyline does not often require drug therapy during detoxification. Currently, there are no medicines designed specifically for treating side effects of amitriptyline discontinuation. However, to help alleviate discomforting Elavil withdrawal effects, certain medications can be taken. For example, painkillers such as ibuprofen, Tylenol, or aspirin are frequently prescribed to treat headaches, while Imodium for diarrhea. As every case is unique, a doctor may prescribe other medications to facilitate recovery. Patients should not switch to other medications without a physician’s consultation.

How To Get Professional Help In Case Of Elavil Addiction

Elavil uses include management of depression and chronic pain. While the medication has been proven to be very effective, misuse of Elavil can be dangerous and may cause drug addiction. If someone is abusing Elavil, there are several substance abuse treatment programs available across counties to help addicts. Dedicated specialists from different rehabilitation centers can help one get started on recovery immediately.

Page Sources

  1. Davison P, Wardrope J. Acute amitriptyline withdrawal and hyponatraemia. A case report. Drug Safety. 1993; 8(1): 78-80.
  2. Keks N, Hope J, Keogh S. Switching and stopping antidepressants. Australian Prescriber. 2016; 39(3): 76–83. doi:10.18773/austprescr.2016.039.

Published on: February 7th, 2020

Updated on: February 7th, 2020

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.


Leave a comment

  • Jackie
    I have been on 25mg of elavilfor 26 yrs, want to stop taking causing digest priblems how long will it take, to taper off?