Tricyclic antidepressants are so awful they're not even used for depression anymore--but millions of people still take them anyway, because they're commonly used off-label to treat chronic pain.

Now, a new study finds that the meds themselves can put you in a world of hurt: They can increase your heart risk by more than a third.

Researchers examined data on nearly 15,000 participants in the Scottish Health Survey who were at least 35 years old, had no history of heart disease and were tracked for an average of 8 years.

They found those who used tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline and clomipramine were 35 percent more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease than patients not on the meds, according to the study in the European Heart Journal.

The study doesn't show why tricyclic users are more prone to heart disease, but it's not too hard to figure out: These meds are already linked to increased blood pressure, weight gain and diabetes.

It's like metabolic syndrome in a pill--and once you put it all together, you've got heart disease.

The researchers say the risk didn't apply to the newer SSRI antidepressants, but that doesn't make them a better choice for depression. SSRIs have been liked to personality changes, bleeding problems, sexual disorders, headaches, nausea, diarrhea and even suicide.

Like the tricyclics, they're not very good for depression either--SSRIs are routinely beaten in studies by exercise, talk therapy, St. John's wort and more.

And just like you don't need SSRIs for depression, you don't need tricyclics for any of the other conditions they're used to treat, including insomnia, headaches and back pain.

There are safe and natural alternatives for all of these problems--and I've told you about many of them.

If you're looking for a way to sleep better or beat the pain, you can start your search for answers on my Web site.

And for even more great natural health tips, visit the free online library at the Health Sciences Institute. Just enter your condition in the "Find a Cure" box, and you're on your way to a drug-free solution.