Compare Elavil vs. Atenolol

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Elavil
(Amitriptyline)

Tenormin
(Atenolol)

Improves mood and relieves certain kinds of pain. Elavil (Amitriptyline) is an older antidepressant that's sometimes used to treat pain and sleep problems, but it can have more side effects than similar medications.Lowers blood pressure and controls heart rate. Tenormin (Atenolol) is good for controlling chest pain and treating a heart attack. It has fewer side effects than other beta blockers. You need to take it on an empty stomach and you can't skip doses.
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Reviews & ratings
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4.48Elavil
Reviews for Elavil (Amitriptyline)
53%
of people (All ages) say Elavil (Amitriptyline) is worth it
36%
say it works well
25%
say it's a big hassle
134 reviews
Have you used Elavil (Amitriptyline)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Tenormin (Atenolol)
58%
+5% vs. Elavil (Amitriptyline)
48%
+12% vs. Elavil (Amitriptyline)
16%
+9% vs. Elavil (Amitriptyline)
457 reviews
Have you used Tenormin (Atenolol)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
ElavilAtenolol

The Elavil FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Elavil side effects »

The Atenolol FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Atenolol side effects »
How it works
ElavilAtenolol
Elavil (Amitriptyline) is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA). Researchers don't know exactly how it works. It may change serotonin and norepinephrine activity in the brain, which regulates mood and pain perception. It also has sedative effects.Tenormin (Atenolol) is a selective beta blocker that works specifically on the heart by slowing down the heart and making the heart pump better.
Type of medication
ElavilAtenolol
Antidepressant
Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA)
Prescription only
Antihypertensive
Beta blocker
Prescription only
Available as
ElavilAtenolol
  • Pill
  • Pill
Used for (click to learn more)
ElavilAtenolol
Risk factors for serious side effects
ElavilAtenolol
  • Age 24 years or younger
  • History of bipolar disorder
  • At risk for bipolar disorder
  • History of cardiovascular disease
  • Age 65 years or older
Detailed risks & warnings »
  • Suddenly stopping Tenormin (Atenolol)
  • Taking calcium channel blockers
  • Major surgery requiring anesthesia
  • Diabetes
  • Taking clonidine
Detailed risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Research studies with real people found harmful effects on unborn babies, but the benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Pain
ElavilAtenolol
  • Low doses work well to treat certain kinds of chronic pain. It can take 2 weeks to feel the full effects of the medication.
No pain related info.
Sleep
ElavilAtenolol
  • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
No sleep related info.
Weight
ElavilAtenolol
  • It's more likely to cause sleepiness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
No weight related info.
Upsides and benefits
ElavilAtenolol
  • Low doses work well to treat certain kinds of chronic pain. It can take 2 weeks to feel the full effects of the medication.
  • Low doses of Elavil (Amitriptyline) start working in 45 minutes to help you sleep better.
  • Six out of every ten people who use an antidepressant for the first time find that it works for them.
  • A first-choice treatment to prevent chest pain (angina).
  • A first-choice treatment for heart attack recovery.
  • At lower doses, Tenormin (Atenolol) has fewer side effects than other beta blockers because it targets the heart and not other parts of the body.
Downsides and risks
ElavilAtenolol
  • When used for depression, Elavil (Amitriptyline) causes more side effects and has a higher risk of overdose than other antidepressants. It's usually used when other medications haven't worked.
  • It's more likely to cause sleepiness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
  • People age 65 and older have a higher risk for this medication's side effects.
  • Like most antidepressants, it can cause a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior for people age 24 and younger.
  • The first antidepressant you try doesn't always work or it can cause side effects you really don't like. You might need to try a few different medications until you find one that works for you.
  • You need to take Tenormin (Atenolol) on an empty stomach.
  • Taking a beta blocker might make you feel more tired or out of breath during exercise or normal daily routines. This gets better for most people, but it might not go away for others.
  • Not a first-choice treatment for high blood pressure unless you have heart disease. However, your doctor could add it to other medicines you're already if your blood pressure is still too high.
  • You can't miss or skip doses. If you stop Tenormin (Atenolol) suddenly, it can cause your blood pressure to go up really quickly, raising your risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Tenormin (Atenolol) can hide symptoms of low blood sugar if you're diabetic.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
ElavilAtenolol
  • Take at bedtime to avoid some of its side effects.
  • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
  • Stop taking it slowly to avoid getting withdrawal symptoms.
  • Tell your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or unusual thoughts.
  • Lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides. Raises good cholesterol.
  • Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice while taking this medicine.
  • Tell your doctor if you develop sudden muscle pain, fever, or weakness.
  • Tell your doctor if you notice dark urine or yellowing in your eyes or skin.
Learn more
More about ElavilSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Elavil (Amitriptyline)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about AtenololSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Tenormin (Atenolol)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it