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Vivactil Review – 8 Facts to Consider

By Sasha de Beausset Aparicio, MSc

Reviewed by Rebecca Williams, MD, MA, MB, BChir

Last Updated:

Evidence Based | Facts | Nutrition Facts | Claims | Cautions | Cost | Suggested Use | Verdict

Vivactil (also known as Protriptyline) is a prescription drug used to treat depression and ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The product is included in the tricyclic antidepressants group, one of the first discovered and used in the treatment of depression. The name comes from the structure of these drugs which is of 3 rings of atoms.

The manufacturer, Merck & Co, resulted from the association of 2 reputable companies: Merck and Schering-Plough in 2009. The new company has succeeded in becoming the second healthcare company worldwide.

Even though the mechanism of action is not fully known, it is believed that tricyclic antidepressants beneficial effects are a result of their ability to balance the natural neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. Vivactil is only offered by a prescription and it is typically not offered until other forms of medication have proven to be unsuccessful. It is a product with many potentially dangerous or life-threatening side effects.


1) Vivactil Quick Facts

Vivactil is an antidepressant indicated for the treatment of depression and ADHD. Vivactil or Protriptyline is unique among tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) because it tends to have an energizing effect, instead of the sedative one specific to the rest of drugs from the group.

Antidepressants containing Protriptyline are sometimes used to treat recurring headaches (migraines) and other chronic pain.

Protriptyline is used primarily to treat depression and the combination of symptoms of anxiety and depression. Like most of the antidepressants from this class it has also been used, on a limited scale, for the treatment of panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, cocaine dependency, ADHD and eating disorders.

The side effects are multiple and potentially dangerous. Some of the most common include dry mouth, constipation, urinary retention, increased heart rate, dizziness, anxiety, headache, insomnia, low blood pressure, nightmares, rapid or irregular heartbeat, rash, seizures. Being a prescription drug, Vivactil should only be taken as recommended by a healthcare professional.

Nutrition Facts

2) Vivactil Nutrition Facts

Vivactil contains the following ingredients: Protriptyline HCl, anhydrous lactose, carnauba wax, corn starch, dibasic calcium phosphate, hydroxypropyl cellulose, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, polysorbate 80, propylene glycol, sodium starch glycolate, and titanium dioxide.
Vivactil 5 mg tablets also contain FD&C Yellow 6 and FD&C Red 40.

3) What Does Vivactil Do?

Vivactil is a tricyclic antidepressant that is prescribed for the treatment of depression. The formula works by allowing certain chemicals to stay in the brain longer.

This product is available in tablet form and is taken three or four times a day. Vivactil uses are mainly focused on the treatment of depression but in some cases, this drug has proven to be effective for treating bulimia, anxiety disorders and fibromyalgia as well.

It is important to note that Vivactil has not been studied extensively in people under the age of 18, so it is only approved for use in adults.

There have been numerous side effects reported with the use of Vivactil or Protriptyline. They include yellowing of the eyes or skin (jaundice), suicidal thoughts or behavior, hostility or aggressiveness, engaging in unusual or dangerous activities, restlessness or inability to sit still, extreme elation or feelings of happiness that may switch back and forth with a depressed or sad mood, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, agitation, or panic attacks.


4) Vivactil Claims

  • Efficient in the treatment of depression;
  • Good reviews from consumers who have used the product for migraine treatment;
  • Vivactil is approved by the FDA.

5) What You Need to Know Before Taking Vivactil

  • Prescription drug with multiple harmful side-effects;
  • Short-term studies regarding major depressive disorder have revealed it increases the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults.

6) How Much Does Vivactil Cost?

Vivactil is a very expensive form of medication. Choosing its generic version (Protriptyline) may be a good idea if you cannot afford the treatment.

The co-pay in this product will depend on your health insurance coverage. Not all health insurance programs will pay for it. There may be prescription assistance programs in your area so check into them if you need help paying for this particular medication.

It is never recommended to purchase Vivactil from questionable sources. Do not purchase Vivactil if it wasn’t prescribed to you by a medical doctor.

Suggested Use

7) Suggested Use

The usual dose is 15 to 40 mg a day, divided into 3 or 4 doses.


8) Our Verdict on Vivactil

Therefore, it is recommended only when other medication has failed to take effect. It is believed it works by decreasing the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. In a similar way to other antidepressants, the therapeutic effects of Protriptyline appear slowly, approximately after 2 weeks of treatment. The drug is not recommended for people who suffered from heart attacks or have used MAO inhibitors within the last 2 weeks before using Vivactil.

Also, the drug may be harmful to unborn babies, therefore it is recommended to inform the healthcare professional if any of these cases apply. The use of children under 18 years old is forbidden without the advice of a doctor.

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