Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Elavil (Amitriptyline)

  • Karthikeyan ArdhanareeswaranEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_102072-1



Elavil is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA). By blocking their reuptake by presynaptic neurons, TCAs increase the synaptic levels and action durations of noradrenaline and serotonin. Serotonin is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is heavily involved in mood and emotion regulation and has been found to be elevated in the whole blood and platelets of ASD patients. In addition to their reuptake-inhibiting properties, TCAs also exert antagonistic effects on histamine H2, serotonin 5-HT2, α1-adrenergic, and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. While many of these neurotransmission systems have been implicated in autism pathogenesis, the generally low receptor specificity results in a high toxicity profile. Side effects include nausea, drowsiness, weakness, dry mouth, changes in appetite or weight gain, constipation, blurred vision, increased sweating, and decreased sexual drive. Low doses of this drug do show promise in the treatment of...


Autism Spectrum Disorder Emotion Regulation Serotonin Reuptake Acetylcholine Receptor Cochrane Review 
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References and Reading

  1. Barsa, J. A., & Saunders, J. C. (1961). Amitriptyline (Elavil), a new antidepressant. American Journal of Psychiatry, 117(8), 739–740.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Autism Program, Child Study CenterYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Program in Neurodevelopment and RegenerationYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental BiologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA