What are tricyclic antidepressants?

Tricyclic antidepressants are a type of medicine that’s been around for over 50 years to treat depression. They’re an older antidepressant, but very, very effective. That said, they’re not prescribed a great deal today because newer antidepressants have emerged that are probably as effective and have much less side effects.

What are tricyclic antidepressants used for?

One of the issues with tricyclic antidepressants is their side effect profile tends to be more unpleasant, or more common than with the newer antidepressants. They often cause sedation, dry mouth, they can cause blurry vision, and most people don’t tolerate them particularly well. They’re still an important part of the treatment of severe depression, and they’re also an important part of the treatment for people with obsessive compulsive disorder, particularly medicines such as Clomipramine, which is prescribed for obsessive compulsive disorder. So in summary, they’re an older, well-established antidepressant, very effective, but given their side effects, tend to be used less often than some of the newer antidepressants.

For more information on safe use of medications

Presented by, Dr Matthew Cullen, Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney

Important national numbers for help

  • Emergency 24/7 – 000
  • Kids Help Line 24/7 – 1800 551 800
  • Men’s Line – 1300 789 978

Useful websites

Beyond Blue https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

Mensline: http://mensline.org.au/

Last Reviewed: 20/08/2020

myDr

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