Tricyclic Antidepressant (TCA) Screen

This post originally appeared on MedLine Plus.

What is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) screen?

This test checks for the amount or the presence of tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) in blood or urine. TCAs are a type of antidepressant. Antidepressants are medicines that treat depression, a serious illness that can affect how you think, feel, and behave. There are several types of antidepressants. They each work in slightly different ways.

TCAs were one of the first types of antidepressants developed. They can be effective, but they tend to cause more side effects than newer types of antidepressants. But since it’s common for antidepressants to become less effective or ineffective over time, TCAs can be a good option to treat depression when other antidepressants have failed.

Commonly prescribed TCAs include:

  • Doxepin
  • Nortriptyline
  • Amitriptyline
  • Imipramine
  • Desipramine

TCAs have to be carefully dosed. It can be hard to find a dose that is effective without being dangerous. In fact, TCAs are the cause of many prescription drug overdose deaths in the United States.

Other names: TCA test, TCA screen

This post originally appeared on MedLine Plus.

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