Last updated: November 2022
Elavil is an antidepressant medication that has also been used as a preventive treatment for migraine. It is a tricyclic antidepressant, which is an older class of medications used for depression. Since these drugs were designed to affect how various chemicals are processed in our brain’s nerve cells, they are believed to also have an ability to prevent migraine.
The neurotransmitter serotonin is one of these chemicals that has a signaling function in the brain. Migraine and serotonin regulation are believed to be closely related, and people with dysregulated serotonin may be more likely to experience migraine.
Have you tried an antidepressant medication to prevent your migraines?
Response from the community: Was Elavil effective in relieving your migraine symptoms?
We’ve asked community members how effective they felt Elavil was in relieving their migraine symptoms. Most people found this medication to be at least somewhat effective in relieving their migraine symptoms, with only 14% stating that they did not relieve their migraine symptoms at all. Ten percent of community members said their symptoms were completely eliminated.
Was Elavil effective in relieving your migraine symptoms? (3,526 total votes)
- Not at all (14% | 510 Votes)
- Slightly eased symptoms (19% | 659 Votes)
- Cut symptoms in half (13% | 468 Votes)
- Reduced symptoms significantly (44% | 1,551 Votes)
- Eliminated all symptoms (10% | 338 Votes)
Common side effects of Elavil for migraine
Antidepressants, including Elavil, come with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s strongest warning that the use of antidepressants has been associated with an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children, adolescents and young adults. Tricyclic antidepressants can be fatal in overdose. You should monitor your mental health and if you experience any changes notify your doctor immediately. You and a caregiver should monitor your behavior for new or worsening depression, any thoughts of hurting or killing yourself, any impulsive behavior, anxiety, restlessness, worry, agitation, panic attacks, changes in sleep or aggressive behavior.
Other common side effects of Elavil include: dry mouth, orthostatic hypotension, constipation, blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness and insomnia.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:
- Slow or difficult speech, trouble speaking
- Dizziness or faintness
- Weakness or numbness of an arm or a leg
- Crushing chest pain
- Rapid, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
- Severe skin rash or hives
- Swelling of the face and/or tongue
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Muscle spasms in the jaw, neck, and back
- Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- Any unusual bleeding or bruising
- Hallucinating (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
Elavil should not be discontinued suddenly, as withdrawal symptoms can occur. Talk to your doctor about stopping Elavil and how to gradually reduce your dosage.
Response from the community: How would you rate the side effects you experienced with Elavil for migraine?
Most of our community members surveyed experienced no or only slight discomfort from side effects while taking Elavil. In 22%, the side effects were noticeable, and a small percentage (8%) said they will not use Elavil due to the side effects they experienced.
How would you rate the side effects you experienced with Elavil for migraine? (2,985 total votes)
- No side effects (29% | 874 Votes)
- Slight discomfort from side effects (34% | 1,009 Votes)
- Noticeable side effects (23% | 674 Votes)
- Side effects will limit my use (6% | 189 Votes)
- Will not use due to side effects (8% | 239 Votes)
Other things to know about Elavil for migraine
Before taking Elavil, talk to your doctor about all your health conditions, particularly if you have any of the following:
- Bleeding problems
- Breathing problems
- Liver problems
- Recent heart attack or cardiovascular (heart) disease
- Any problems urinating
- Overactive thyroid
It is not known whether Elavil is safe to take during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or who plan to become pregnant or breastfeed should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits.
Elavil is not recommended for children under the age of 12.
Talk to your doctor about all medications, herbal supplements, and natural remedies you are taking. Elavil may interact negatively with some medications, especially antihypertensives (for high blood pressure), anticholinergic drugs, or neuroleptic drugs.
In the past year, has insurance made it difficult to get your migraine treatment?