imipramine, Tofranil, Tofranil-PM

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is imipramine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Imipramine is an antidepressant medication of the tricyclic class. Medications in this class are often referred to as tricyclic antidepressants or TCAs. Depression is defined as an all-pervasive sense of sadness and gloom. In patients with depression, abnormal levels of chemicals in the brain (called neurotransmitters) may be the cause of their depression. These neurotransmitters are chemicals that the nerves in the brain use to communicate with each other. Imipramine is believed to elevate mood by raising the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. Imipramine was first synthesized in the late 1940s and was approved by the FDA for depression in 1959 and for enuresis in 1973. PRESCRIPTION: Yes

What brand names are available for imipramine?

Tofranil, Tofranil-PM

Is imipramine available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

What are the side effects of imipramine?

The most common side effects of imipramine are:

Other important side effects include:

Imipramine also can cause elevated pressure in the eyes of some patients with glaucoma.

Following prolonged therapy with high doses, abrupt discontinuation of TCAs, including imipramine, could lead to withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or restlessness. Therefore, many experts recommend gradually reducing the dose of drug if the drug is to be discontinued.

Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in short-term studies in children and adolescents with depression and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of imipramine  or any other antidepressant in a child or adolescent must balance this risk with the clinical need. Patients who are started on therapy should be closely observed for clinical worsening, suicidal thinking or behavior, and unusual changes in behavior.

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