Nortriptyline for Migraine Prevention

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Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 56
   Posted 2/20/2008 2:35 PM (GMT -6)   
Has anyone been prescribed nortriptyline for prevention of migraines? I've been put on this medication to lessen my frequent migraine attacks and also because it will supposedly help out with some my IBD symptoms.
I've read some fairly scary things about this drug so I am just hoping to hear from some folks who have used it long term. I've been on for a couple of weeks and so far so good but think I'll have to wait a little while the benefits.
Dx with Crohn's Colitis July 2007
37 yr old working Mom with two beautiful little girls (2 and 4)
Prednisone (fingers crossed), 75 mg Mercaptopurine (6MP), 4.8g Asacol, Nortriptyline (30 MG), Imitrex and Ambien as needed
Other stuff: probiotics and folic acid

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 120
   Posted 2/20/2008 7:30 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello Sanfran,
I was prescribed Pamelor, which is a Nortriptyline, I believe.  I was put on it for migraines and depression, I stayed on it for about 5 months.  It helped with my depression, but not my migraines.  I never had any side effects with Pamelor. 
Wishing you the best,
Dx: Chronic Daily Migraines & Chronic Depression
Daily meds: Trazadone, Norpramin & Cymbalta
PRN meds: Tylonal #3

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2004
Total Posts : 921
   Posted 2/21/2008 3:30 AM (GMT -6)   

I took it for quite some time, the only reason I stopped is because I was driving a long distance to work and back home and I felt too sleepy.

When did you start taking it?

I would just suggest to keep in touch with your doctor if you feel like there are unwanted side effects, and try not to take other people's experiences to heart as we are all different!


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Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 56
   Posted 2/22/2008 4:27 PM (GMT -6)   
I just started taking about 2 weeks ago. So far I am not really feeling any adverse side effects. I think its too soon to tell if its going to help with the migraines but it is definately helping with the IBD symptoms.

Thanks for your good advice. I am under care of a neurologist and GI for this but had just never heard of this drug for migraine prevention. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will help out.
Dx with Crohn's Colitis July 2007, Migraine October 2006
37 yr old working Mom with two beautiful little girls (2 and 4)
Prednisone (fingers crossed), 75 mg Mercaptopurine (6MP), 4.8g Asacol, Nortriptyline (30 MG), Imitrex as needed
Other stuff: probiotics and folic acid

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 2/27/2008 1:07 PM (GMT -6)   
I took Pamelor for about a month made me feel really doopy and lazy I didn't feel it helped my migraines at all.
Cruiser yeah

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 3/14/2008 12:12 PM (GMT -6)   
I took it for 2 days and I couldn't deal with it. I felt like a zombie, and I'm a teacher. I quit.

Want me to send you the balance of my scrip? lol j/k

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 3/20/2008 10:00 AM (GMT -6)   
I have taken 100mg a day for almost a year and no problems.

sometimes if i take it after having a few drinks then my throat gets a lot of drainage and feels kinda funny, but this has only happened about 3 times in a year. And to be honest it my be another one of my meds doing it.

New Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 4/26/2008 12:34 AM (GMT -6)   

Hello sanfran,

I have been taking nortriptyline for about 4 years.  I take 50 mg a day.  I have had migraine/cluster headaches about 12 years.  I am a 33 year old male.  I had no depression, just headaches.  Once I started taking the medicine my migraines started to lesson greatly.  I also found that caffiene from drinks or Excederin may have helped triggered the severe migraine headaches.  I had mild "normal" headaches from caffiene and still do if I start drinking caffiene again, but these are completely different from my severe headaches.  I personally never noticed any side effects from the medicine.  Only once I forgot to take with me out of town and I felt extremely anxious after 4 days and almost couldn't take it.  I think it took a couple months until it started working,  the freqency and severity slowly started to decline.  Imitrex shots is the only thing I have ever taken which would take my severe headaches away.  I have now not taken Imitrex over a year. 

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 35
   Posted 4/26/2008 10:42 AM (GMT -6)   
My neurologist had mentioned that an antidepressent may be the next step in treatment.  Being a psychology major and learning about all the effects of these medications I was kind of nervous about starting it especially since I have never heard of these being used for Migraines.  I did ask one of my psychology professors if he had ever heard of anti depressents being used for Migraines and he told me that anti depressents are used for many different things like Migraines, Pain, Etc. I then asked him if they are safe and he just kind of giggled about it, I guess he thinks I am to worried about it.  He said "It is probably going to be a low dose and just because someone is taking them does not mean they are depressed"  He then told me "he can't tell me what to do, but I should keep an open mind and do what the doctor tells me".  I think that it is worth a try and if there are side effects you don't like then you can stop.  I trust this proffessor of mine and it give a look at the view of someone who really does know alot about the medication it self and not just the facts of it being shown in research studies to help. 

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 39
   Posted 6/28/2008 11:15 AM (GMT -6)   
I just started taking this drug on wed (06-25-08) and aside from it making me tired that is about all the side effects I am dealing with. My Neuro told me to take it at bed time that way it won't affect me during the day when I need to function. I am only on it for migraines not depression as well, he told me it was a good treatment for complicated migraines and I am on 25mg to start right now.

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2011
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 6/15/2011 3:54 PM (GMT -6)   
Good Morning,
I've been on Nortriptyline for migraines since 2004 without side effects. Just a little dry mouth but I'm on a baby dose. Before that I had migraines every day, all day and was ready to go on disability.  I was very miserable. 
 I take 2, 10 mg capsules at night and it works very well. It's a cheap medicine that's been around a long time (per my neurologist).
If I forget my meds, I'll know during the night or the next day when the migraine hits. Sometimes it's so bad I just lay there. I have to force myself to get up to get it. I'm also on Relpax for break through migraines (which occurs when I forget to take the meds the night before).  I had to go to a neurologist to get the right diagnosis.  He said I had a serotonin uptake problem. I don't know why he  watched my feet while I was standing there barefooted, but he got it right and I'm very grateful to him, very grateful.  

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 1629
   Posted 6/15/2011 4:08 PM (GMT -6)   
Have just been put on this for abdominal pain. Starting with 10mg.
Had an allergic reaction to Amitriptyline so hoping that it won't happen with this medication.
Worried about the side effects. Is it unsafe to have the odd glass of wine wih it??
Tori xx

Forum Moderator - IBS and UC

New Member

Date Joined May 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 5/30/2013 1:14 PM (GMT -6)   
I realize this is a very old post but since it is still being viewed by folks doing internet searches on the subject of nortriptyline for migraines, I figured I would share my experience. I had migraines with aura approximately 3-4 times per month - sometimes more, sometimes less. They were extremely painful (obviously) and would last for hours, if not most of the day. Afterwards, I would feel beat-up or hung-over for another day or so.

about two years ago, a neurologist proscribed nortriptyline 10mg to reduce the severity and frequency of the migraines. I took 10mg about two hours before bedtime each night. After about one month, I didn't have any more migraines.

Around the beginning of the year I quit taking the nort to try the high-magnesium cure for migraines. Supposedly that works for some people, but unfortunately, it did not work for me. I stayed on 500mg of magnesium for about 3 months while not taking the nort. After about 1 month, I had 3 migraines within 2 weeks. I figured I would give the magnesium more time to work, so I kept it up for another month. I had probably 3 or 4 more migraines, so obviously the magnesium was not working for me.

I've since gone back to 10mg of Nortriptyline, once per night, and it works. No more migraines (yet, anyway). The side effects I notice are quite minimal (but then, I'm on a super-low dose): more vivid dreams at first (this goes away somewhat after a few months for me); dry mouth (this has not gone away for me, but is minimal and much more tolerable than migraines); greater sensitivity to alcohol. When I tell you I'm a lightweight, seriously, I can only drink a glass of wine. Any more than that and I feel sick. But again, small price to pay for no migraines.

Hope this helps others in their search to find a solution of debilitating migraines.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 6005
   Posted 5/30/2013 4:40 PM (GMT -6)   

I've been on HW for years, but have never checked the Migraine forum, for some reason. This was the first thread to catch my eye, because I've been on Nortriptyline for about 20 years. It's a multi-purpose drug for me, since I have not only Migraines, but Fibromyalgia (and the sleep disturbance that goes with it) and IBS.

I used to get horrible Migraines - aura, agonizing throbbing pain, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound - you name it. Once I started the Nortriptyline, the severity and frequency were somewhat reduced.
Midrin helped even more, but then they took that off the market....luckily for me, the headaches are all but gone now that I'm older.

I do have chronic dry mouth, and can't drink at all, or I feel extremely hungover (kinda takes the fun out of it!) Those are about my only side effects.

Moderator, Fibromyalgia Forum

Fibromyalgia, herniated disc L4-5, (recent discectomy), DDD, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, IBS, migraines, visual disturbances, tachycardia, hearing loss (probably Menieres,) balance issues, chemical sensitivities

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 6/15/2013 10:50 PM (GMT -6)   
I get migraines and cluster headaches about 2 weeks of every month. I feel I'm close to going on disability. I saw a neurologist who prescribed Nortriptyline. She wants me to start out on a low dose and increase every week, I'm nervous about having to be on something every day. I've been on it a week now and so far feel very groggy and spacey. I'm going to try to give it a month after reading these posts. I will try anything for some relief.

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2013
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 6/17/2013 2:35 PM (GMT -6)   
I was glad to see some helpful comments on this topic. Me neuro just added this drug to my Topomax and Imitrex use.  I sure hope it helps. I  am on a low dose at bedtime.  I too was leery of taking an anti depressant when I am not depressed. Migraines are a killer.....

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 6/20/2013 5:01 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello, new to forum but apparently I was a lurker here before. lol
I will give you my issues as I am still currently working through them. Male, early 30’s, average shape.
Symptoms: tension headache with dull bothersome pain but not a throbbing pain. Just feels like I have congestion in my head. I also have a hard time focusing and concentrating. Every once and a while I will feel a dizzy feeling. Nothing major but like if I am a space case or something.
Cause: I am sure it is everyday stressors and a very stressful time I had been going through last year and the year prior to that.
Pre treatment: I tried everything. Magnesium, b-vitamins, ibuprofen, aspirin, napaxrin sodium, coffee, vitamin c, multi-vitamins, etc… or every internet remedy out there
Treatment: I got the whole physical all the way up to a CT scan and everything checked out okay…I was given one pill of nortryptiline and was told to progress every 4 weeks and im now on 3 pills a day. Headaches, dull stuffy headed feeling, lack of concentration and focus are still there but off and on (no better-no worse). In the beginning though – it was working…what did not work is I am active and work out a lot and I was taking the Walmart Creatine and that was not good. It made my headaches worse. I weaned off that and once took St. johnsons Wart or something like that and it too messed me up as it basically cleanses the nortriptiline away.
I so far have been to a chiropractor for my headaches and I don’t think it cleared the headaches. Just helped my flexibility. I drink a lot more water now and attempt to ween off coffee but it is hard because the nortriptiline makes me very tired during the day and I will end up needing a monster or red bull to keep up with the day.
I am at a total loss. I want these headaches gone.
I went from a respectable GPA with honors to a guy who cant focus on tests and is starting to fail a few. I used to be witty and quick on my feet and now im just a scatter brain with these headaches.
I need to catch up with my physician but I wanted to say that anyone using nortripliline or anyone about to, it is a gamble, and so far it has not worked for me.

ill keep you posted. :)

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 8/11/2013 9:00 AM (GMT -6)   
I've been prescribed nortripyline for pain in my coccyx, which I think is an absys or cyst. The side effects are sleep and more sleep. Of no use to me as I handle and teach with weapons!!!
I was offered an MRI and then told it wouldn't show anything in that part of my body!! Mmmmm!
Still can't sit down!

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 8/27/2013 3:53 AM (GMT -6)   
I too have been getting cluster migraines. the last one being non- functioning for 4 straight days. I take imitrex that usually will wipe them out after an hour or so. but this one required doc intervention. I am now taking nortriptyline 25mg every night and it broke me out of the cycle. about 6 months ago this same scenario happened and the nortriptyline got me out of that one as well. my doc says to take until migraine is gone, but I'm tempted to give it a go long term. I do dislike the dry mouth, but it helps me sleep. I get about 3-6 migraines month. I will give anything a try at this point!

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 9/2/2013 5:18 PM (GMT -6)   
I get migraines approx. 3-4 times a week, but after trying nortriptyline this has decreased to 2 times weekly. I take 40mg a night. The side effects that i get, however, are dry mouth, dizziness and temporary blindness when standing up (not necessarily quickly), feeling very depleted and generally tired. Sometimes i also feel nauseous. Considering changing to a different medication, a shame really as it seems to be working a bit for me. Hopefully i'm alone in these side effects though!

New Member

Date Joined Oct 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 10/15/2013 1:03 PM (GMT -6)   
Im wondering if anyone has been prescribed nortriptyline for balance and vision problems. Both my inner ears arent functioning properly and I have alot of balance issues. I also have nystagmus which is an involuntary rapid eye movement. My neuro has just prescribed this med as a starting point for treatment. Any input would be appreciated.

New Member

Date Joined May 2016
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 5/18/2016 3:27 PM (GMT -6)   
I have been on Pamelor for 2 months. I have been having migraines, seizures, was incoherent most of the time, sensitivity to light. The Pamelor really seems to have settle my situation down. After endless tests I still have no results as to what was wrong. However, I was down for about 120 days. I am back to work now, driving, and as long as I take my Pamelor I have good days. I can't even take it late, I have to take it on time. Dr wanted me to take it before bed, but it kept me up. So I take it about 3:30. I get a migraine starting if not on time with medication.
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