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What Are Tricyclic Antidepressants?

What Are Tricyclic Antidepressants?

Tricyclics were once a popular form of antidepressant and were prescribed often during the mid-20th century.

They were thought to be effective in treating moderate to severe depression, but they were found to have some side effects that made them less favourable as time went on.

With the emergence of newer antidepressants, tricyclics have become less and less common, however still remain the main form of treatment for certain individuals and are worth exploring further.

Are tricyclics right for you?

Keep reading this blog to learn more about the pros and cons of tricyclic antidepressants so you can make an informed choice on whether they may be beneficial for your situation.

How Do Tricyclics Work?

Tricyclics are a class of medication used to treat patients suffering from depression.

They work by blocking and altering the reuptake of two neurotransmitters:

  • Norepinephrine (contributes to moods associated with depression) and
  • Serotonin (promotes feelings of calmness and happiness).

By allowing more of these two neurotransmitters to remain in action in the brain, tricyclics help relieve symptoms that may be holding patients back from living a healthy life.

In addition to blocking reuptake, tricyclics can increase the number of neurotransmitters being released which then ride on to their target sites throughout the brain, further aiding in symptom relief.

Tricyclics were once one of the most prescribed classes of antidepressants for good reason; through working with a combination of both norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake, tricyclics provide a comprehensive approach towards relieving depression symptoms quickly and effectively.

Are Tricyclics Stronger Than SSRIs?

Both tricyclics and SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are two types of medications used to treat depression. While tricyclics had traditionally been the standard in antidepressant treatment, SSRIs have become an increasingly popular choice due to their relative ease of use and fewer side effects.

But the question of whether tricyclics are stronger than SSRIs is complicated.

Each medication has advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to discuss individual cases with your healthcare provider to determine which type of treatment is best for you.

Tricyclics may have a greater impact on severe depression symptoms as they target mood directly, but usually need higher doses and can cause more severe side effects than SSRIs.

When it comes to making the right decision in terms of tricyclic or SSRI medication, consulting a doctor who understands your situation is essential – there’s no simple answer as to which kind of drug is better suited for treating depression.

What Are The Side Effects Of Tricyclics?

Tricyclics are a type of antidepressant that are known to produce certain side effects.

While it is true that every medication can have some form of side effect, tricyclics in particular can cause a range of symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty with urination 

Other physical side effects may include:

  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Chest pain
  • Swelling of the feet or hands
  • An increased appetite leading to weight gain

Some individuals may also suffer from mental/mood side effects including:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations

These powerful potential effects can be enough for many people to decide against taking tricyclic antidepressants and choose another treatment instead.

Benefits of Using Tricyclic Antidepressants:

TCAs have historically been more effective than Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) as they work on both serotonin and noradrenaline – making them better when it comes to treating severe depression.

Because of this unique action, tricyclics have been shown to be effective for treating various symptoms of depression: things like loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, fatigue and a decrease in participation in activities.

Plus tricyclics are generally considered more suitable for people who suffer from anxiety or the older population–their sedative properties can be beneficial in these cases.

Although tricyclics can cause side effects such as weight gain and dry mouth, they are still considered to be an important form of treatment for people with depression who do not respond well to SSRIs.

Who Should Look Into Using Tricyclic Antidepressants?

Tricyclic antidepressants may be a beneficial choice for individuals with chronic depression who have not seen satisfactory results with other treatments.

This is especially so for those with comorbid disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder or nocturnal enuresis, otherwise known as bedwetting. While tricyclics are primarily used for depression, they can be effective at treating other conditions as well.

For example, tricyclics have been seen to contain anticholinergic effects which can help reduce excessive perspiration and migraines in addition to decreasing anxiety. Thus, tricyclics are often prescribed by doctors when dealing with more complex cases that involve multiple diagnosis.

Who Should Avoid Using Tricyclic Antidepressants?

Tricyclic antidepressants are generally considered a safe and effective form of treatment for depression, however, there are certain medical conditions or lifestyles that make tricyclics an unsuitable option for some people.

Anyone with a history of heart disease, such as someone who has recently had a heart attack, should avoid tricyclics due to increased risk of cardiovascular complications.

Similarly, anyone with liver disease should avoid tricyclics as the drug may be difficult to metabolise. Porphyria patients should also steer clear from tricyclics because they can trigger some of the symptoms associated with this inherited blood disorder.

Additionally, those suffering from certain mental health disorders like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia require particular caution when considering tricyclics since it can cause mania in these individuals.

In Conclusion:

Tricyclic antidepressants are still a great treatment option for many people who suffer from depression.

While tricyclics may not be the first line of defence prescribed, they should not be completely ruled out due to their potential side effects. The initial side effects, such as nausea and fatigue, typically go away and tricyclics provide a reliable long-term solution for many individuals.

In addition to being effective antidepressants, tricyclics can also be helpful in treating severe pain, insomnia, and headaches.

Ultimately, tricyclics should be considered as a viable option for treating depression, and any concerns you may have over related side effects should be discussed with your doctor before discontinuing use of the drug.

Private Mental Health Treatment at Orchestrate Health

Orchestrate supports patients with complex mental health needs, enabling them to be cared for online and/or at home by providing live-in mental health specialists, home assessments and daily visits from professionals within the mental health field.

We are committed to ensuring patients receive the highest standards of care available.

Contact us today to start your recovery journey at Orchestrate Health.




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