Compare Elavil vs. Propranolol

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

Elavil
(Amitriptyline)

Inderal
(Propranolol)

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. Inderal (Propranolol) is good for treating many heart problems and other problems in the body, but it has more side effects than other beta blockers. You can't miss doses.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
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
Reviews for Inderal (Propranolol)
62%
+10% vs. Elavil (Amitriptyline)
58%
+24% vs. Elavil (Amitriptyline)
17%
+6% vs. Elavil (Amitriptyline)
Side effects
ElavilPropranolol

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

More about Elavil side effects »
  • Dizziness 5%
  • Fatigue 4%
More Propranolol side effects »
How it works
ElavilPropranolol
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.Inderal (Propranolol) is an alpha and beta blocker. It lowers blood pressure by slowing heart rate, relaxing blood vessels, and lowering the body's fight-or-flight response.
Type of medication
ElavilPropranolol
Antidepressant
Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA)
Prescription only
Antihypertensive
Beta blocker
Prescription only
Available as
ElavilPropranolol
  • Pill
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
ElavilPropranolol
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 Inderal (Propranolol)
Risk factors for serious side effects
ElavilPropranolol
  • 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 »
  • Suddenly stopping Inderal (Propranolol)
    • Major surgery requiring anesthesia
    • Diabetes
      • Concurrent use of non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers, digoxin or clonidine
        Detailed Inderal (Propranolol) risks & warnings »
        Pregnancy category
        ElavilPropranolol
        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
        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
        Alcohol
        No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
        Food
        No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
        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.
        No specific sleep-related info.
        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.
        • Cases of heart failure due to taking Inderal (Propranolol) have been reported. Tell your doctor if you noticed increased swelling around your legs or ankles, sudden weight gain or sudden shortness of breath as these may be symptoms of heart failure.
        Upsides and benefits
        ElavilPropranolol
        • 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 failure, heart attack, heart valve disorders, and abnormal heart rhythm.
        • Also treats and prevents many non-heart problems, such as tremors, anxiety, migraines, and liver disease symptoms.
        Downsides and risks
        ElavilPropranolol
        • 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.
        • 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 for some might not go away.
        • Has more side effects than some beta blockers because it crosses into the brain and central nervous system.
        • Not a first-choice treatment for high blood pressure according to the latest guidelines, except if you have heart failure or heart disease. As a second choice, your doctor might add it to medicines you're already taking if your blood pressure is still too high.
        • Can hide symptoms of low blood sugar if you're diabetic.
        • You can't miss doses. Stopping Propranolol suddenly can cause your blood pressure to go up suddenly, which raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.
        Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
        ElavilPropranolol
        • 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.
        • Can cause dizziness in the first few days.
        • Check your blood pressure 1 week after starting this medicine, and tell your doctor if it hasn't improved.
        • Can cause insomnia and fatigue.
        • Can hide symptoms of low blood sugar. Be careful if you're diabetic.
        • Don't stop taking this medicine suddenly.
        Learn more
        More about ElavilSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
        More about PropranololSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert