Compare Elavil vs. Tenex

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

Elavil
(Amitriptyline)

Tenex
(Guanfacine)

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.Treats ADHD and lowers blood pressure. Tenex (Guanfacine) can be used to treat both blood pressure and ADHD, but it's not recommended as a first-line treatment for either problem.
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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
ElavilTenex

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

More about Elavil side effects »
  • Drowsiness 31%
  • Fatigue 8%
  • Dizziness 7%
  • Headache 5%
More Tenex side effects »
How it works
ElavilTenex
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.Tenex (Guanfacine) is a centrally-acting alpha agonist medication. It lowers blood pressure by slowing down the heart rate and relaxing the blood vessels. It's not clear how Tenex (Guanfacine) works in ADHD, but it's used when stimulants haven't worked or can't be used in people.
Type of medication
ElavilTenex
Antidepressant
Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA)
Prescription only
Antihypertensive
Alpha agonist
Prescription only
Available as
ElavilTenex
  • Pill
  • Pill
  • Extended release
Used for (click to learn more)
ElavilTenex
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 Tenex (Guanfacine)
Risk factors for serious side effects
ElavilTenex
  • 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 »
  • Taking other medications that cause sedation or sleepiness
  • Stopping Tenex (Guanfacine) suddenly to treat high blood pressure
Detailed Tenex (Guanfacine) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy category
ElavilTenex
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
BFDA pregnancy category (Probably safe)

Research studies with animals haven’t found a risk to unborn babies, but it hasn’t been properly studied in humans.

See the FDA package insert
Alcohol
No specific alcohol-related info.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink while taking this.
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.
No specific weight-related info.
Upsides and benefits
ElavilTenex
  • 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.
  • The same medication treats two different things, high blood pressure and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • It's not a "controlled medication".
  • Used to control ADHD when stimulant medications haven't worked or can't be used due to other medical problems.
  • Available as a generic medication, so it should be more affordable than other options.
Downsides and risks
ElavilTenex
  • 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.
  • Doesn't control ADHD as well as stimulants do, so it's used as a second-line medication.
  • Not a preferred drug to control blood pressure.
  • Can't be stopped suddenly, especially for blood pressure, since the blood pressure can dramatically increase.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
ElavilTenex
  • 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.
  • Don't stop taking Tenex (Guanfacine) without talking to your doctor first.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink while taking this.
  • Drink plenty of liquids and don't get overheated while taking Tenex (Guanfacine).
  • You can feel sleepy the first few times you take it, or when your dose is increased. Don't drive or do anything that requires concentration until you know how the medication affects your body.
  • Can take up to 2 weeks for the maximum effect.
Learn more
More about ElavilSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
More about TenexSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert