Compare Elavil vs. Pamelor

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

Elavil
(Amitriptyline)

Pamelor
(Nortriptyline)

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.Improves your mood. Pamelor (Nortriptyline) is a good option for treating depression, especially for people who also have problems with persistent nerve pain.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
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4.466101694915254Elavil
Reviews for Elavil (Amitriptyline)
52%
of people say Elavil (Amitriptyline) is worth it
34%
say it works well
23%
say it's a big hassle

Not enough reviews for this drug. Help someone out, leave a review!

Side effects
ElavilPamelor

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

More about Elavil side effects »

We haven’t found good data for Pamelor side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Pamelor »
How it works
ElavilPamelor
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.Pamelor (Nortriptyline) is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA). It helps improve your mood by altering the levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and other similar chemicals in your brain.
Type of medication
ElavilPamelor
Antidepressant
Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA)
Prescription only
Antidepressant
Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA)
Prescription only
Available as
ElavilPamelor
  • Pill
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
ElavilPamelor
How well it works for depression
The free Iodine Start program helps people track how well they are improving, and find the right antidepressant faster.
The free Iodine Start program (personal reports and coaching) is currently only for antidepressants. For now, you can read our pharmacist info about this medication.Learn more about Elavil (Amitriptyline)The free Iodine Start program (personal reports and coaching) is currently only for antidepressants. For now, you can read our pharmacist info about this medication.Learn more about Pamelor (Nortriptyline)
Risk factors for serious side effects
ElavilPamelor
  • Age 24 years or younger
  • History of bipolar disorder
  • At risk for bipolar disorder
  • History of cardiovascular disease
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Age 65 years or older
Detailed Elavil (Amitriptyline) risks & warnings »
  • Age 24 years or younger
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Stopping Pamelor (Nortriptyline) suddenly
  • Using other medications that affect serotonin
  • History of heart disease
  • Older age
  • Electrolyte imbalance
Detailed Pamelor (Nortriptyline) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy category
ElavilPamelor
CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

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.

See the FDA package insert
NFDA pregnancy category (Unknown)

The FDA hasn’t classified this medicine’s effects on unborn babies. Talk with your doctor about this medicine if you’re pregnant or planning on it.

See the FDA package insert
Alcohol
No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
Food
No specific food-related info.
  • Take it with food and/or at bedtime to decrease the potential side effects.
Kidneys and liver
No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
Sex
No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
Sleep
  • Low doses of Elavil (Amitriptyline) start working in 45 minutes to help you sleep better.
  • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
  • Stopping Pamelor (Nortriptyline) suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, agitation, flu-like symptoms, trouble sleeping, and dizziness. Withdrawal symptoms usually occur within 3-5 days of stopping the medication, and go away within 1-2 weeks. Work with your doctor to gradually reduce your dose.
Weight
  • It's more likely to cause sleepiness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
  • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
No specific weight-related info.
Upsides and benefits
ElavilPamelor
  • 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.
  • Helpful with treating certain types of pain, like migraines or nerve-related pain.
  • Generally well tolerated and has fewer side effects than other medicines in the same class of drugs.
Downsides and risks
ElavilPamelor
  • 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.
  • Side effects are usually manageable, but can be annoying.
  • Increases the risk of falls, especially when used in the elderly.
  • There's an increased chance of it causing heart problems, especially in people with a history of heart problems.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
ElavilPamelor
  • 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.
  • Needs to be taken every day for 1 to 2 weeks to start feeling better, and for 6 to 8 weeks to see the full effect of the medication.
  • It's important to keep taking Pamelor (Nortriptyline) even when you feel your symptoms are getting better.
  • Take it with food and/or at bedtime to decrease the potential side effects.
  • If you decide to stop taking Pamelor (Nortriptyline), work with your doctor to slowly get off this medicine to avoid getting withdrawal symptoms.
  • Tell your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or unusual thoughts.
Learn more
More about ElavilSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
More about PamelorSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert