Tricyclic Antidepressant (TCA) Screen

Tricyclic Antidepressant (TCA) Screen

A Tricyclic Antidepressant (TCA) screening can help doctors assess a person’s mental health. The test detects the presence of tricyclic antidepressants, which are a type of antidepressant medication used to treat depression and anxiety.


Patients should inform their doctor if they are taking any medications or supplements before the test. It’s important to discuss any possible drug interactions between the TCA screening and any other medications.


The TCA screening is usually conducted as part of a comprehensive physical or mental health exam. Blood or urine samples are collected in the laboratory for analysis. The results of the tests are usually ready within a few days.


There are several types of tricyclic antidepressants available, including amitriptyline, clomipramine, desipramine, doxepin, imipramine, nortriptyline, and protriptyline.


TCA screenings are generally safe, but there is a risk of false-positives and false-negatives. A false-positive indicates that the test detected the presence of tricyclics when they were not present, while a false-negative indicates that the test did not detect them when they were present.

Why and When

A TCA screen is used when a person exhibits symptoms of depression or anxiety, or when a physician is considering prescribing an antidepressant. By detecting the presence of tricyclic antidepressants in the body, the doctor is able to better assess the patient’s mental health and determine the most appropriate treatment.


Once the results of the TCA screen are available, the doctor and patient can discuss the options for treating the depression or anxiety. In some cases, the patient may be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist for further treatment or counseling.