Amitriptyline experiences?

Hi all,

I just found this forum and it has been an absolute godsend. I started getting migraines in my teens, but only ~2/month, always in the first few days of my period (menstrual migraine). Over the years, the migraines have been increasing in frequency. 15 years later (I'm 30), I am getting >2/week and they don't seem to have a regular trigger. Staring at a computer screen for hours seems to cause some, but they also come on weekends/holidays/when I'm sleeping. They don't have an aura, thank god, but are still wrecking my work life, exercise, and personal life. Immigran (sumatriptan) will knock them out, but I can't take it all the time (don't want to develop rebound headaches).

I want to start taking a preventative and have been shopping around. Read a lot of positive things about amitriptyline on other forums, but most posts here seem to have negative experiences. Anyone have positive results from amitriptyline? I'm wary of beta-blocker and topamax side-effects. Thanks for your thoughts. I realize my migraines are very minor compared to some of you! I can't even imagine how hard it must be.

Love to all :)

19 Replies

  • I took it for a few years, and it worked very well. My migraines, were 'atypical' with an aura like a hangover which built up over 24 hours and gradually worsened. They would then last up to 2weeks, worsening each evening. It took a few months for the full effect of the amitriptyline to build up, and I always knew the migraine was there, but without the pain or nausea, if that makes sense.

    Side effects were there, especially a dry mouth, and night sweats. But well worth it for the relief.

    I am in my sixties, and all my life my migraines have come and gone for a few years. So I stopped18 months ago when I could not feel the vestigial migraines any more I did have a couple but since then I have been fine. I have also been seeing a holistic doctor, radically changed my diet, and taken a very powerful homoeopathic remedy which has had an amazing effect on my other problems. So I am optimistic that the migraines will not return, but if they do I would most certainly start the amitriptyline again.

  • Hello there,

    My migraines only started when I started this perimenopause phase... 2 months before I turned 50. But Inwas getting migraines EVERY DAY!! They started about 8,9 or 10. I lost 10 pounds in 2 months because I could not eat due to constant nausea. I live in Canada and My family doctor is , I must admit, awesome!! She used to be an ER doctor, so as soon as you tell her your symptoms, she knows what's going on. Anyway, she is a God sent! Tried all the triptan drugs, but they are not meant to be taken everyday, so ended up with bad chest pain ( after going to the ER by ambulance, we found out it was a side effect that Triptan were giving me, so... No more Triptan for me!) my doctor asked foe a referral to the migraine clinic that we have in Calgary, Alberta, but the wait time was 1 year and 2 months. So, she said we need to figure something out because you won't make it! We tried amytriptyline 10 mg ( I am very petite ~ I weight 100 pounds and this is the smaller dose.... Took me 3 weeks to get used to it, as in the beginning it made me feel like a zombie until 15:00. By itself, it didn't do much. Then she said: I have a lot of patients who have gone to the Migraine clinic and you wouldn't believe the cocktail of medication they give them sometimes. So, we stopped the amytriptyline and started 20 mg. of Propranolol ( beta blocker). On its own, it didn't do much. But we tried both of them together and it WORKED!!! I take 20 mg. of Propranolol in the morning and 10 mg of Amytriptyline in the evening. My periods have been irregular now for 1 year and I do feel some migraine symptoms , like heaviness on top of my head, but nothing to stop me from functioning only when I have my periods, apart from that I am migraine free! I haven't had to close the drapes, go to bed with ice on my head for over 2 years now.... It feels great to have my normal life back. Because I am small, my doctor did not want me to take more that the lowest dosage for each of those pills, but it works. And it didn't take long to work, within a week, it was working. Hope this helps! If you have questions, don't hesitate! When I have migraine symptoms, I also often use my CEFALY, it really helps diminish the symptoms. I use it once or twice ( 1 or 2 cycles) before I go to bed.

    France from Calgary, Alberta, Canada

  • Hi there. I was offered Amytriptyline but was to worried about the drowsy side effects as i do shift work and worried it wouldnt work as well taking it at different times in the day for when i do days and nights.

    What do you mean by cefaly?

  • CEFALY is a device that was suggested by the neurologist at the migraine clinic I went to. Look it up online. It was developed in Switzerland , I believe. You wear it around your head.

    It took me 3 weeks to get over the drowsiness of Amytriptyline and I am on the lowest dosage ( 10 mg). Once over the drowsiness, one would assume it would not interfere with your shift work, but ask your doctor. One thing is for sure, I would never go back living with daily migraines. It feels wonderful to have a normal life again and to be able to plan activities without wondering if a migraine will ruin everything. My neurologist is hopeful that once I am n full menopause, the migraines will stop, as I never had them before 50.... So crossing my fingers!

  • Hi. First of all be wary of medication overuse headaches, as you're well aware, if you are starting to get more migraines. It's easy to find yourself taking more painkillers than you realise when your life is busy (and whose isn't?).

    Also make sure you've got an effective Tristan. I found rizatriptan best as it works quickly.

    I found amitryptilline good, but it made me too drowsy and was lucky that a neurologist suggested nortryptilline, which doesn't have so many side effects. They do give you a dry mouth and you need to drink lots of water to stop you getting constipated (joy), but the side effects do go.

    If they were originally menstrual It could be that as you are going into your 30s your hormones are starting to get a bit unbalanced - mine actually started at 35. It's worth trying HRT - or probably the pill at your age to try and level them out.

    I also found minfulness meditation hugely helpful. It started from reading a book called How to be sick by Toni Bernhard and then I did the 8 week course in Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World. I'm a scientist and there is lots of evidence that mindfulness helps with chronic pain.

    Hope you find some use in some of this,


  • Thanks for the tip about water! I had been playing around with changing contraception a bit. Both the combined pill and mini pill (progesterone only) caused way more headaches. Many people talk about taking estrogen continuously (seasonale or yasmin), but I haven't tried that.

    I'm a scientist too! Thanks for your thoughts :)

  • I am taking amatriptiline, both positive and negative results. I just keep taking it

    I find 3 asprins are the best. 325 mg.

  • I would be wary of taking aspirin. My GP told me some years ago to take a double dose of nurofen. It worked very well for the pain, but I developed gastritis, and now can't take any NSAIDs at all.

  • Hi I take amitriplyine and have had some relief from it! I would def give it a go. I haven't had any sideaffects from it! I get chronic migraines daily 24/7. I hope this helps you.


  • Hi there,

    3 years ago I was started on amitriptyline at 25mg every night. I had almost immediate relief from very bad heads. I managed like that for about 18 months then the migraines started to return, I went back to my g.p. and he said that often happens and that he could increase it up to 35mg but that was as high as he could go as any higher and the amitriptyline becomes an antidepressant and not a muscle relaxer! So again it worked for over a year and then stopped working. I had to slowly reduce the dose to come off them. I have since had the worst 2 years of my life regarding migraines and hurrendous side effects from just about every other migraine prevention medication (none of which have worked) . I didn't have any side effects from amitriptyline and if it gives you the relief it gave me I think it's a good one to start with.

    Good luck ! 😊xx

  • Hello, I was put on Amitriptyline about a year ago and it had made a difference but the drowsiness is a problem especially as I was told to take them at least two hours before bed time as drowsiness does happen and can linger in the morning. I still have some real horrors but the frequency of the migraine decreased originally however the frequency has started increasing again and stress seems to play a real part. I think it is worth a try as long as it is not at too a higher dose, however I do still take sumatriptan which does if taken at the right time head the migraine off.



  • Well the positive was that it did control my migraines for about 9 months. The negative was that they made me completely loopy as in memory loss etc. Small price to pay for no pain but after 9 months they just seemed to stop working. Everyone is different so they could suit you much better ...good luck x

  • Hi

    Ive had been a 'common' migraine sufferer for about 48 years (started age of 5) and have tried all sorts of treatments to very little avail. Whilst I used to get hem up to 3 x per week when I was a child, they tended to link in more with my periods until my hysterectomy two years ago. I did try Amytriptyline but due to side effects decided not to continue, although I didn't give them very much of a chance! I was also encouraged to try Beta blockers but that idea did not appeal either. Tried acupuncture, homeopathy, an MRI on my brain, cranial osteopathy, chiropractor, faith healer, herbalist - you name it!

    Two things that i have found to be very helpful (although v expensive!). One is bioidentical hormones - you will have go privately to a doctor who knows about these and who has access to a pharmacy who can makeup the preparations. What often contributes to hormonal migraines is an imbalance between oestrogen and progesterone - once this is rectified you do start feeling a lot better in my experience. HRT (which is derived from pregnant mares' urine and therefore does not replicate human hormones completely) only boosts oestrogen and can still leave one totally out of balance.

    Secondly it may be worth consulting a knowledgeable nutritionist since migraines may result from a gut issue (since that is where many diseases seem to originate). If you are not producing sufficient stomach acid, then it doesn't matter what other supplements / good food stuffs you eat as your body will not be able to fully digest them. Also (at the risk of sounding a bit graphic) - if constipation is an issue it is vital that that is resolved since too much toxic matter left in the system can also contribute to migraines, I am told. Also check if you have any food intolerances.

    Sorry for the rather long post but hopefully the above might be helpful.

  • I have gut problems that are extremely severe. It was caused from taking 4to 5 exceedrins a day plus other medications for 35 yrs. I suffer daily from migraines and stomach pain, gas, and constipation. I am trying to see a GI doctor. No one seems to understand how desperate I am and no one seems to know how to help me. I feel so desperate. Have any suggestions?

  • Hi. I have suffered migraines as long as I've had a menstrual cycle (I'm now 38). Amytriptiline has been the only medication that has allowed me to get my life back and to function. I still get migraines but I haven't been bad enough to have to go to bed and Imigran always nips it in the bud now too if I do take it. I'm on 30mg per day and don't feel drowsy and I've also tried to cut out sugar, bread and most processed foods to balance my hormones which may have helped.

  • Hi there - I too have seen an amazing result from taking amitriptyline. I started just over a year ago (after trying triptans, tramadol, propranolol, etc on prescription over the years) and I've been very impressed.

    I started on 10mg and went up 10mg per week - up to 30mg. At week 4 (40mg dosage) I felt really unwell - with migraine-like symptoms but also muscle tremors. So, I went back down to 30mg. The following day, I didn't have a headache at all! After having either a headache or chronic migraine every day for most of my life, I can tell you that it was an amazing feeling. I really feel that amitriptyline has given me my life back.

    I've stayed on 30mg as that seems to have the desired affect. Like others noted, this low dosage works well. Although my neurologist did say some people take up to 100mg to get an affect! That's also the dosage that starts the drug working as an anti-depressant. She (my neurologist) said that amitriptyline works in the same way a volume button works on a TV... i.e. slowly turning down the noise of over-sensitive nerves in the base of the brain. I understand what she means too. Also, the amitriptyline has interrupted the nerve response from my bladder - meaning that I don't often 'feel' the need to wee! But that's the main side-effect and I can handle that.

    I do have to take my amitriptyline at around 8pm at night to feel 'awake' by 7am the next morning. Plus, for me, it really doesn't mix well with alcohol - the two make the sleepiness / morning after dopiness really pronounced. So, if I drink, I have to leave an hour per unit for it to wear off before taking my amitriptyline and then I'm ok. I'm only talking about 1-2 glasses of wine or 2 pints of beer here by the way... So, I also have fewer headaches from not drinking booze so much too.

    I take 600-800mg of Ibuprofen when migraine's strike - but never more than a few days per month now. My neurologist said this dose is the clinical one and is fine as long as you drink lots of water with it. And don't take it more than 15 times (at that dosage) in any one month. I'm also on the progesterone-only pill which is also phenomenal - it was the only thing that stopped my aura migraines.

    Sorry this is so long... I got carried away! All the best, Q xx

  • I tried amitriptyline and it may have helped slightly, but I felt loopy and had memory problems plus it causes weight gain. Did you experience any of these problems?

  • Hi Robsny - the amitriptyline did also make me feel a bit loopy to begin with. Also, it does seem to have affected my short-term memory a bit - but that was never too good anyway. I have gained about 5lbs too with no change in diet to have caused it otherwise - but that's worth it overall given how awful I was feeling before.

    Like you, I was starting to have daily migraine - or ones that would start but not leave for a week... then the next would start. I have no food triggers - apparently it's much rarer than people think, although of course, some people suffer from this too. Often the foods we eat prior to a migraine are actually cravings - hence why they're usually things like chocolate, wine, caffeine... all have some form of drug effect on the brain which is what it's craving... (My neurologist told me this - it's the findings from some recent research. She also said that given that we migraineurs are having such a crap time already it seems doubly mean to have to give up nice foods and drinks too...) I know that taking daily NSAIDs / pain killers can provoke more headaches and migraines. Maybe the Excedrin could actually be making you feel even worse? (Sorry to say)

    I understand how you feel desperate - it feels like a never-ending merry-go-round and a whole world of pain. I am also hopeful that whenever you have those suicidal feelings that you can reach out and talk to people - including us on this forum. I know no-one can wave a magic wand to make it go away, but I've found talking (to my partner, friends, my mum, GP, even the Samaritans at one stage) does help as it reassures me that I'm not going slowly mad. I also started meditation so that when migraine strikes I'm a bit better equipped to think positively by knowing the worst of it will pass and I will feel better.

    Sending you some virtual, moral support and hugs Robsny. Q xx

  • I have had migrains for yrs. I now them every day, some to rebound and some due to inflammation from foods and others, are regular migraines. I have taken every drug available. My insurance co will only cover 18 pills of Triptans for three month period. Consequently, I take anywhere from 2 to 5 Exceedrin a day. I now also suffer with constant abdomen pain and uncontrolled gas problems. I am desperate and sometimes feel suicidal. I have eliminated sugar, and many foods from my diet, which helps a little. What can I do?

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