Uses of Tricyclic Antidepressants

Tricyclic Antidepressants in Children and Teens

None of the tricyclic antidepressants are approved for treating depression in children or teens. However, clomipramine (Anafranil) is approved to treat OCD in children as young as 10 years old, and imipramine hydrochloride (Tofranil) is approved to treat bedwetting in children as young as six years old. While the other tricyclic antidepressants may be used "off-label" in children or teens, they are generally not recommended for children less than 12 years old.
Antidepressants have been shown to increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in short-term research studies involving children and teenagers (see Tricyclic Antidepressants and Suicide for more information on the risks of suicide with tricyclic antidepressants). Talk to your healthcare provider about the possible treatment options for childhood or teen depression.

Off-Label Tricyclic Antidepressant Uses

On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend a tricyclic antidepressant for something other than the condition(s) discussed above. This is called an "off-label" use. At this time, off-label uses of tricyclic antidepressants include the treatment of the following conditions:
  • Chronic pain: Tricyclic antidepressants work best for chronic pain that is nerve-related, such as nerve pain from having shingles (including postherpetic neuralgia).
  • Anxiety disorder: Many antidepressants (including tricyclic antidepressants) are used to treat anxiety disorders.
  • Urinary incontinence in adults: Tricyclic antidepressants can help adults with problems with bladder control.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Tricyclic antidepressants can be used to treat ADHD, especially if other ADHD medications have not been effective or have caused side effects.
  • Fibromyalgia: Tricyclic antidepressants have been used to treat pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia.
  • Prevention of migraine headaches: Tricyclic antidepressants can be used on a daily basis to prevent migraine headaches.
  • Treatment for bulimia: Tricyclic antidepressants have been found to improve symptoms of bulimia, including binge eating and vomiting.
  • Smoking cessation: Tricyclic antidepressants are sometimes used to help people quit smoking.
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Tricyclic Antidepressant

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