Which medications in the drug class Tricyclic Antidepressants are used in the treatment of Urinary Incontinence?

Updated: Jan 22, 2021
  • Author: Sandip P Vasavada, MD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
  • Print

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Historically, these drugs were used to treat major depression; however, TCAs have an additional use in the treatment of bladder dysfunction. They function to increase norepinephrine and serotonin levels. In addition, they exhibit an anticholinergic and direct muscle relaxant effect on the urinary bladder. Due to their black box warnings, the use of TCAs are often avoided.

Imipramine hydrochloride (Tofranil)

A typical TCA, imipramine facilitates urine storage by decreasing bladder contractility and increasing outlet resistance. It has an alpha-adrenergic effect on the bladder neck and an antispasmodic effect on the detrusor muscle. Imipramine also has a local anesthetic effect on bladder mucosa.

Amitriptyline hydrochloride (Elavil)

A TCA with sedative properties, amitriptyline increases the circulating levels of norepinephrine and serotonin by blocking their reuptake at nerve endings. It ineffective for use in urge incontinence but is extremely effective in decreasing symptoms of urinary frequency in women with pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. Amitriptyline restores serotonin levels and helps break the cycle of pelvic floor muscle spasms. It is well tolerated and effective in the majority of women with urinary frequency.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!