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What are the Signs of an Amitriptyline Overdose?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Feb 15, 2024
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There are various signs of an amitriptyline overdose which patients should be aware of in the event that one occurs. Short-term or minor symptoms can include shortness of breath, trouble urinating, vision changes, dilated pupils, drowsiness, restlessness, dry mouth, headache, and trouble concentrating. More severe signs can include coma, convulsions, seizures, and death.

Amitriptyline is a prescription medication that is sold under several brand names. It is generally used as an antidepressant. Dosages are considered carefully for each patient’s needs and should not be exceeded. An overdose occurs when a patient takes more of this medication than prescribed. This can occur by accident or as an intentional act of self-harm.

An amitriptyline overdose is a serious medical emergency. Patients living in an area with a national poison control hotline can call the number and receive instructions. When doing so it is a good idea to have the patient’s height, weight, age, and the amount of medication ingested. The brand and dosage instructions are also important.

The most common treatment for an amitriptyline overdose involves the use of active charcoal. When given within a couple of hours of ingestion, charcoal may act to absorb some of the drug from the stomach and prevent more serious complications. This medication is extremely potent and dangerous when taken in excess. Induced vomiting, stomaching pumping, and intestinal irrigations are not advised when treating an amitriptyline overdose.

Patients who are displaying symptoms of an overdose are closely monitored for several hours, often in an intensive care unit. Additional medications can sometimes be used to reverse or stabilize dangerous side effects. Prompt treatment is crucial because this medication can cause long-term damage to the


and heart. This, and similar medications, are commonly responsible for fatal overdose.

It is sometimes hard to know how much amitriptyline is suitable for each patient. The lowest possible dose is generally given to start with, and it may be increased slowly depending on symptoms and the body’s response to the drug. Many times less severe antidepressants are given first because they are generally safer to use and pose fewer risks. This drug is generally not recommended for children, teens, and young adults unless absolutely necessary.

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