Amitriptyline for Migraines
Amitriptyline hydrochloride (Elavil®) is a prescription medication approved to treat depression. However, on occasion, healthcare providers may prescribe amitriptyline for other, non-approved uses (or "off-label" uses). One of these uses involves preventing migraines. Amitriptyline can be used on a daily basis to prevent migraine headaches -- however, this medication is not effective at treating a migraine once it starts.
To avoid long-term side effects of preventive medications, headache specialists recommend that people reduce the dosage of these drugs and then stop taking them as soon as possible. However, it is important to note that it may take two to three months before you notice a decrease in the frequency or severity of attacks, and treatment may be required for 6 to 12 months or longer.
Although it is not exactly clear as to how this drug works for migraine prevention, it is believed that amitriptyline affects certain chemicals in the brain (including serotonin and norepinephrine).
(Click Amitriptyline Uses and Migraine Medications for a more in-depth look at using amitriptyline for migraine prevention. These articles also discuss how amitriptyline works and outlines other medications commonly used for migraine treatment.)