Treatments > Biological > Medication > Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

  • Examples: amitryptiline, clomipramine, dothiepin, imipramine, lofepramine


  • The nerve cells normally recycle serotonin and norepinephrine by soaking it back up again. The majority of TCAs work by stopping (inhibiting) this re-uptake of serotonin and norepinephrine. As serotonin and norepinephrine is not soaked up again, more will be present to pass on messages to nerve cells nearby.


  • Common side effects, as associated with the receptor profiles:

- Anticholinergic: dry mouth, blurred vision, urinary retention, constipation, drowsiness, confusion.

- Adrenergic antagonism: drowsiness, postural hypotension, tachycardia, sexual dysfunction.

- Antihistaminergic: drowsiness, weight gain.

- 5HT2 antagonism: anxiolytic, reduced sexual dysfunction, sedation.


  • Advantages

- Well-established efficacy

- Possibly more effective in severe depression


  • Disadvantages

- Toxicity in overdose

- Less well-tolerated than SSRIs

- Lower seizure threshold

- Slow cardiac conduction