Drugs – Amitriptyline: Depression, Pain & Sleep Relief


In this leaflet we explain how Amitriptyline was developed as an antidepressant, but is now used more commonly to help with pain and sleep problems that occur in ME/CFS.

Amitriptyline was developed for treating depression, but its use has diminished in recent years – mainly because new types of antidepressants are just as effective, or more effective, and tend to cause fewer problems with side effects.

Why might Amitriptyline be prescribed for ME/CFS?

Firstly, for pain: At low doses, amitriptyline can provide effective pain relief in the muscles, joints or nerves (= neuropathic pain or neuralgia). Secondly, for sleep disturbance: One of the side effects of amitriptyline is sedation. So a low dose can be helpful for people who are waking during the night and not sleeping solidly for at least five hours. Thirdly, for the prevention of migraine which appear to be more common in ME/CFS – as well as what is called atypical facial pain. Amitriptyline is also sometimes used to treat cluster headaches.

Telephone Helpline

The ME Association telephone helpline – ME Connect – is available every day of the year, during the hours of 10am-12noon, 2pm-4pm and 7pm-9pm. Please phone: 0344 576 5326 if you have any questions or would simply like to talk to someone who is there to listen.

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