Certain TCAs have both sedating and antidepressant effects. If a depressed person is sleeping poorly or is anxious – a very common occurrence in depression – this anti-anxiety or anxiolytic effect can be very useful. TCAs all prevent brain cells from pumping a number of neurotransmitters back into transmitting cells to a variable degree.
Because the TCAs affect more than one brain chemical, however, they have a number of undesirable side effects – the most common ones being the so-called “anticholinergic” side effects. These side effects include dry mouth, blurred vision, trouble urinating and constipation. TCAs also impair concentration and memory – symptoms which are already present when people are depressed. Another side effect of the TCAs is weight gain.. There is also the serious issue of deliberate overdosing. For this reason, people taking a TCA must be closely monitored if the threat of suicide is real.
TCAs include: amitriptyline (Elavil, Levate, Novo-Tryptin, Endep, Enovil, Apo-Amitriptyline/); imipramine (Apo-Imipramine, Impril, Novo-Pramine, PMS-Imipramine, Tofranil?, Norfranil, Tipramine), desipramine (Alti-Desipramine, Apo-Desipramine, Dom-Desipramine, Norpramin?, Novo-Desipramine, Nu-Desipramine, Pertofrane?, PMS-Desipramine)); nortriptyline (Aventyl?, Pamelor), protriptyline (Triptil?, Vivacil), trimipramine (Apo-Trimip, Novo-Tripramine, Nu-Trimipramine, Rhotrimine, Surmontil?), doxepin (Alti-Doxepin, Apo-Doxepin, Novo-Doxepin, Rho-Doxepin, Sinequan?, Triadapin, Zonalon), clomipramine (Anafranil?, Apo-Clomipramine, Gen-Clomipramine, Novo-Clopamine), maprotiline (Ludiomil?, Novo-Maprotiline), amoxapine (Asendin?).