Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 1 » Antidepressants - Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (maois), Tricyclic Antidepressants (tcas), Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (ssris)

Antidepressants - Tricyclic Antidepressants (tcas)

nortriptyline treatment depression dry

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) work by increasing the availability of the neurotransmitters norephinephrine and serotonin in the synaptic space between nerve cells in the brain. Until recently this group of antidepressants was the "gold standard" in the treatment of late-life depression and is still used as a standard to compare newer antidepressants. This group includes medication such as amitriptyline, amoxapine, clomipramine, desipramine, doxepin, imipramine, maprotyline, nortriptyline, protriptyline, and trimipramine. Medications in this group have been shown to slow conduction of electrical impulses in the heart and could be lethal if a patient were to overdose with them. The TCAs also have anticholinergic side effects (dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, urinary retention, etc.) to which older patients are very sensitive and thus are not currently used as first-line medication for late-life depression. Despite this, nortriptyline is the best studied antidepressant for acute and continuation treatment of depression in older patients. If nortriptyline is used, it is essential that plasma concentrations be monitored, since there is a proven blood level range at which it is effective and safe. It is also recommended that the electrocardiogram (ECG) be assessed prior to starting and during treatment.

Common side effects of the TCAs include dry mouth, urinary retention, confusion, constipation, blurred vision, dizziness (may lead to falls and fractures), and sedation.

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