Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCA)

Both tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) work similarly, since they are similar in their chemical composition and react at various receptor sites to try to balance the neurotransmitter levels in the human brain.

TCAs function by increasing the serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain via decreasing the reuptake or re-absorption rate by the neurons. The entire process can take up to several weeks and only then one can observe the results.

All the neurotransmitters affect moods when there is an imbalance. Therefore, the function of antidepressants is to react with various receptor sites and bring about a balance in the neurotransmitter levels.

Tricyclic antidepressants were in existence from 1950 and are considered the oldest antidepressants being used currently. Some of the most commonly used TCAs include, imipramine or Tofranil, nortriptyline or Pamelor, and amitriptyline or Elavil.

Side Effects of Tricyclic Antidepressants

The major drawback with antidepressant drugs and medicines like MAOIs and TCAs are their side effects. And TCAs tend to have more unpleasant side effects than the newer antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. The side effects and adverse reactions of such medicines vary with the specific medication taken and the individual. Here are some typical side effects of TCAs:

Drowsiness, restlessness, anxiety attacks, urinary problems like urinary retention, difficulty urinating, constipation, dryness of the mouth, memory loss, nausea, palpitation and profuse sweating, irregular cardiac rhythm, weight gain, general malaise, tiredness, rare muscle twitching, and loss of libido.

Though most of these adverse reactions and side effects decrease when the dosage of TCA is decreased, people who take these medications have to experience these side effects, which can be highly unnerving.

In addition to the above side effects TCAs have adverse drug reactions if taken by people who are also simultaneously taking other medications. Further, high doses of these antidepressant pills can result in death, so do be very careful of potential tricyclic antidepressant overdose.

People suffering from cardiac problems are advised against the use of TCAs, because they can develop certain major cardiovascular problems. People who consume alcohol, or who take antihypertensive medications, oral contraceptives, thyroid supplements, diuretics, as well as blood coagulants are also advised against the simultaneous use of TCAs, since these could react adversely and cause serious problems for people.

Lastly, TCAs cause thick mucoid secretions on the lenses, making the eyes irritated and itchy.

In view of the many potential side effects of tricyclic antidepressant drugs, it is therefore very important to consult your family physician before starting on any form of antidepressants. Better still, natural and alternative healing, treatment and remedies should be explored before consuming dangerous drugs and pills.

The cure for depression should not become the cause and source of other conditions, which could greatly worsen one’s problems, although this is unfortunately the case for many people who are affected by clinical depression or who are simply feeling a little depressed and under the weather.

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