Side effect What is it? What should I do if it happens to me?
Dry mouth. Not much saliva or spit. Sugar-free boiled sweets, chewing gum or eating citrus fruits
usually helps. If not, your doctor can give you a mouth spray.
A change in medicine or dose may be possible.
Blurred vision Things look fuzzy and you can’t focus properly. See your
doctor if you are worried. You won’t need glasses.
Feeling "bunged up" inside. You can't pass a
motion or stool.
Eat more fibre e.g. bran, fruit and vegetables. Do more
walking. Make sure you drink plenty of fluid. A mild laxative
from a pharmacy might help.
Difficulty in passing urine Contact your doctor now.
DROWSINESS Feeling sleepy or sluggish. It can last for a few
hours after taking your dose.
Don't drive or use machinery. Ask your doctor if you can take
your tricyclic at a different time.
WEIGHT GAIN A bigger appetite and putting on weight. Avoid fatty foods like chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks. A diet
full of vegetables and fibre will usually help, as will physical
activities such as walking. If it becomes a problem or you are
worried, ask to see a dietician.
HEADACHE When your head is pounding and painful. It should be safe to take aspirin or paracetamol.
NAUSEA Feeling sick. Taking each dose with or after food may help. If it is bad,
contact your doctor.
PALPITATIONS A fast heart beat. It is not usually dangerous. It can easily be treated if it lasts a
long time. Tell your doctor about it.
A low blood pressure. You may feel faint when
you stand up.
Try not to stand up too quickly. If you feel dizzy, don’t drive.
This dizziness is not dangerous
Lack of libido or no interest in sex. Inability to
maintain an erection or have an orgasm.
Discuss this with your doctor when you next meet.
SWEATING Sweating more than normal, especially at night. If it is bad, see your doctor.
TREMOR Feeling shaky. Contact your doctor now.
What about alcohol?
It is officially recommended that people taking tricyclics should not drink alcohol. This is because both tricyclics and alcohol can cause
drowsiness. If the two are taken at the same time, severe drowsiness can result. This can lead to falls or accidents. As well as this,
drinking alcohol often makes depression worse. Excessive drinking is especially likely to do this. Once people are used to taking
medication, they can sometimes drink alcohol in small amounts without any harm. Avoid alcohol altogether for the first one or two
months. After this, if you want a drink, try a glass of your normal drink and see how you feel. If this doesn’t make you feel drowsy, then
it is probably OK to drink small amounts. It pays to be very cautious because alcohol affects people in different ways, especially when
they are taking medication.
Don’t stop taking your medication because you fancy a drink at the weekend. If you do drink alcohol, drink only small amounts. Never
drink any alcohol and drive while on tricyclics. Discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor or pharmacist.
When I feel better, can I stop taking them?
No. If you stop taking tricyclics, your original symptoms may return. To reduce your chances of becoming depressed again, you may
need to take your antidepressant for at least 6 months after you feel better, and sometimes longer. This is not thought to be harmful.
You should decide with your doctor when you can come off it.
Remember, leaflets like this can only describe some of the effects of medication. You may find other
books or leaflets also useful. If you have access to the internet you may find a lot of information
there as well, but be careful, as internet based information is not always accurate.
2001 United Kingdom Psychiatric Pharmacy Group www.ukppg.org.uk
This leaflet is to help you understand about your medicine. It is not an official manufacturer's Patient Information Leaflet.
For more information call the UKPPG National Telephone Helpline, 11am to 5pm, Monday to Friday on 020 7919 2999 or
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