What Factors Affect a Sufficient Nortriptyline Dose?

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  • Written By: S. Berger
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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Nortriptyline is a medication that is part of the family of tricyclic antidepressants. It may be used to treat mood disorders, bedwetting in children, migraine headaches, and other medical conditions. An individual taking this medication may require a different nortriptyline dose depending on what condition is being treated. Other factors that may affect an individual's dosage include the age of the patient, tolerance to the medication, and the presence of pre-existing hepatic, or liver, conditions.

Adults taking this drug for depression may take a nortriptyline dose ranging from 25 mg to 150 mg. This dose may be taken once a day, or it may be divided in half and taken every 12 hours to minimize certain side effects, such as nausea. Elderly individuals may also take nortriptyline for depression, and generally receive a dose of 10 mg to 75 mg daily. Like younger adults, geriatric patients may take this dosage at once, or split it into two equal doses to be taken twice during the day.

Teenagers and children may also take this drug for depression if a doctor deems it appropriate. The usual nortriptyline dose for teens, ages 13 to 17, is a series of smaller doses of 30 mg to 50 mg, taken three or four times a day. Alternately, a single dose may be taken, but the total dose should not exceed 150 mg a day, according to doctors.


Younger children may take a nortriptyline dose for bed wetting, also called nocturnal enuresis, that varies by weight. Children ages 6 to 13 that weigh less than 25 kilograms (kg), or 55 pounds (lb), may take a dosage of 10 mg every night, half an hour before going to bed. A larger dose of 10 mg to 20 mg taken half an hour before bed is used for children between 25 kg and 35 kg, or 55 lb and 70 lb. Treatment for children over 35 kg, or 70 lb, is 25 mg to 35 mg each night, half an hour before going to bed.

Individuals with liver damage may have their nortriptyline dose lowered by a doctor as a safety precaution. Hepatic conditions can often slow down their drug metabolism, or the rate at which drugs are broken down in order to be excreted by the body. This has the functional consequence of leaving some medications in the system for longer than under normal conditions. Smaller medication doses may therefore be used at times, in order to prevent a buildup of drugs like nortriptyline.


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Post 3

I take nortriptyline for depression. The highest dose I've been on is 50mg/day. But I was on 25mg/day during most of my treatment. I don't know about others but these doses have been effective for me.

Post 2

@ysmina-- I'm not a doctor, but as far as I know, when it is not being used for depression, the typical doses of nortriptyline are very low. Plus, it's common for doctors to start their patients off on a low dose and slowly increase the dose if it doesn't work. Keep in mind that it can take a few weeks to even a few months to experience the full effects of the drug.

25mg/day is not too low considering that it's for insomnia. I know people who take even less (like 10mg/day) for pain. So the dose depends on what it's being used for. Low doses are usually enough for pain and sleep issues. Tricyclic antidepressants have a lot of side effects at high doses anyway.

Ask your doctor about nortriptyline not working for you. He might want you to wait longer or he might increase your dose a little bit. But don't quit the medication on your own.

Post 1

What is the typical dose for nortriptyline when it is used for insomnia?

My doctor put me on this medication for sleep problems. He put me on 25mg/day. I take it right before bed. It has been a few days and it hasn't helped me sleep at all. Isn't this a very low dose? I should be taking more right?

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