This medication is used to treat mental/mood problems such as depression. It may help improve mood and feelings of well-being, relieve anxiety and tension, and increase your energy level. This medication belongs to a class of medications called tricyclic antidepressants. It works by affecting the balance of certain natural chemicals (neurotransmitters) in the brain.
Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start taking nortriptyline and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, consult your doctor or pharmacist. Take this medication by mouth, usually 1 to 4 times daily or as directed by your doctor. If you are using the liquid form, measure the dose carefully using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose. The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. To reduce your risk of side effects (such as dry mouth, dizziness), your doctor may direct you to start this medication at a low dose and gradually increase your dose. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully. Take this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time(s) each day. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase. It is important to continue taking this medication even if you feel well. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when this drug is suddenly stopped. Also, you may experience symptoms such as mood swings, headache, tiredness, and sleep change. To prevent these symptoms while you are stopping treatment with this drug, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details. Report any new or worsening symptoms right away. This medication may not work right away. You may see some benefit within a week. However, it may take up to 4 weeks before you feel the full effect. Tell your doctor if your condition persists or worsens (such as your feelings of sadness get worse, or you have thoughts of suicide).
See also Warning section. Drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, weight gain, or trouble urinating may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly. To reduce the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position. To relieve dry mouth, suck on (sugarless) hard candy or ice chips, chew (sugarless) gum, drink water, or use a saliva substitute. To prevent constipation, eat dietary fiber, drink enough water, and exercise. You may also need to take a laxative. Ask your pharmacist which type of laxative is right for you. Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects. Tell your doctor right away if any of these rare but serious side effects occur: persistent heartburn, shaking, mask-like facial expressions, muscle spasms, severe stomach/abdominal pain, decreased sexual ability/desire, enlarged/painful breasts. This medication may increase serotonin and rarely cause a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity. The risk increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin, so tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take (see Drug Interactions section). Get medical help right away if you develop some of the following symptoms: fast heartbeat, hallucinations, loss of coordination, severe dizziness, severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, twitching muscles, unexplained fever, unusual agitation/restlessness. Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: severe dizziness, fast/irregular heartbeat, fainting, seizures, eye pain/swelling/redness, widened pupils, vision changes (such as seeing rainbows around lights at night). A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing. This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist. In the US - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch. In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets. Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval. Some products that may interact with this drug include: arbutamine, "blood thinners" (such as warfarin), disulfiram, thyroid supplements, anticholinergic drugs (such as belladonna alkaloids), certain drugs for high blood pressure (drugs that work in the brain such as clonidine, guanabenz). Taking MAO inhibitors with this medication may cause a serious (possibly fatal) drug interaction. Avoid taking MAO inhibitors (isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue, moclobemide, phenelzine, procarbazine, rasagiline, safinamide, selegiline, tranylcypromine) during treatment with this medication. Most MAO inhibitors should also not be taken for two weeks before and after treatment with this medication. Ask your doctor when to start or stop taking this medication. The risk of serotonin syndrome/toxicity increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin. Examples include street drugs such as MDMA/"ecstasy," St. John's wort, certain antidepressants (including SSRIs such as fluoxetine/paroxetine, SNRIs such as duloxetine/venlafaxine), among others. The risk of serotonin syndrome/toxicity may be more likely when you start or increase the dose of these drugs. Other medications can affect the removal of nortriptyline from your body, thereby affecting how nortriptyline works. These drugs include cimetidine, terbinafine, drugs to treat irregular heart rate (such as quinidine/propafenone/flecainide). This is not a complete list. Many drugs besides nortriptyline may affect the heart rhythm (QT prolongation in the EKG), including amiodarone, cisapride, dofetilide, pimozide, procainamide, quinidine, sotalol, macrolide antibiotics (such as erythromycin), among others. Therefore, before using nortriptyline, report all medications you are currently using to your doctor or pharmacist. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other products that cause drowsiness, including alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), antihistamines (such as cetirizine, diphenhydramine), drugs for sleep or anxiety (such as alprazolam, diazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants, and narcotic pain relievers (such as codeine). Check the labels on all your medicines (such as allergy or cough-and-cold products) because they may contain decongestants or ingredients that cause drowsiness. Ask your pharmacist about using those products safely. Nortriptyline is very similar to amitriptyline. Do not use medications containing amitriptyline while using nortriptyline.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: extreme drowsiness, hallucinations, fast/irregular heartbeat, fainting, slow/shallow breathing, seizures.