Nortriptyline (which is also known by the brand name Pamelor) is a tricyclic antidepressant used to treat depression and certain other mood disorders. Pamelor works by affecting the levels of particular chemicals in the brain, like serotonin. Nortriptyline is also occasionally used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or as a complementary therapy for chronic pain conditions.
Nortriptyline is a cumulative drug, which means that it might not work right away. It takes time for the drug to accumulate in the patient’s system. While most people report feeling better within 7 – 14 days, it may take up to a month to feel its full intended effects. It is important to take Pamelor regularly, even if you’re feeling better, in order to receive the full benefit.
While many people benefit from Pamelor’s desired effects, it may also cause unwanted side effects. Some of the more common side effects can be easily managed with lifestyle changes. One example is constipation, which can be monitored by adding more fiber to the patient’s diet, drinking plenty of water, and getting more exercise. You can help combat any dizziness and lightheadedness that nortriptyline might cause by rising slowly from a lying or sitting position. To relieve dry mouth caused by Pamelor, suck on sugarless hard candies or ice, chew sugarless gum, or drink water.
Consult your doctor if you experience any of these rare but serious side effects:
- Severe stomach or abdominal pain
- Persistent heartburm
- Mask-like facial expressions
- Muscle spasms
- Decreased sexual drive
- Enlarged and/or painful breasts
Nortriptyline works to increase serotonin levels in the brain. In very rare cases this can lead to a serious condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity. Seek medical attention right away if you experience one or more of the following symptoms while taking Pamelor:
- Shivering and goosebumps
- A severe headache
- Agitation or restlessness
- Dilated pupils
- Changes in blood pressure
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Unexplained fever
- Rapid heart rate
- Loss of muscle coordination or twitching muscles
- Heavy sweating
Nortriptyline is not considered psychologically addictive in the most commonly recognized sense as Pamelor doesn’t produce highs or intense cravings for the drug when it has been discontinued. It is therefore considered to be a low risk substance for cases of misuse; however, rapid discontinuation of the drug can lead to physical withdrawal symptoms.
You can experience withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuing nortriptyline. Those who have been at higher doses and/or on Pamelor for a long period are much more likely to experience withdrawal than those who have been on a low dose for a short time. Doctors will usually recommend that you taper off nortriptyline in a controlled and gradual manner, rather than discontinuing use abruptly or “going cold turkey.” You are less likely to shock your nervous system and feel withdrawal symptoms with this approach. The most common symptoms of Nortriptyline withdrawal include dizziness, fatigue, irritability, and nausea, headaches, insomnia, muscle pain, and mood swings.
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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.