Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

Last Updated: June 12, 2018

Definition - What does Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) mean?

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are a class of medications used to treat the symptoms of depression. TCAs' name is derived from the number of of rings in the medications chemical compound. Similar drugs, with a four ring structure, are called tetracyclic antidepressants. TCAs act on the neurotransmitters of the brain, changing the brain's chemistry, inhibiting the absorption of serotonin and norepinephrine. Controlling this reuptake process can the brain to regulate a person's mood and control the symptoms of depression. Some examples of common TCAs are amitripyline, doxepin, and imipramine. Brand name TCAs include Norpramin, Silenor, Zonalon and Pamelor.

WorkplaceTesting explains Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

Tricyclic antidepressants are one of the oldest class of drugs used to treat depression. Since the use of TCAs was introduced, newer medications have been developed that have fewer side effects. Among other side-effects, a person taking a trycyclic antidepressant may experience digestive or vision problems, drowsiness, lowered blood pressure, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction. Individuals taking TCAs may need to have regular blood tests. Excessive build up of TCAs in the bloodstream may lead to dangerous health complications.

Nonetheless, for some patients tricyclic antidepressants provide effective relief for the symptoms of depression. Because each TCA is slightly different, the side-effects of each will vary. Side-effects also vary from person to person and at different dosages. TCAs may also be used to treat other mental health conditions such as panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. In some instance, these medications may be used to treat chronic pain conditions.

Share this:

Connect with us

Email Newsletter

Join thousands of employment testing and employee wellness professionals.