- What is desipramine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for desipramine?
- Is desipramine available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for desipramine?
- What are the side effects of desipramine?
- What is the dosage for desipramine?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with desipramine?
- Is desipramine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about desipramine?
What is desipramine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Desipramine is an oral antidepressant, a member of the tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) family which also includes amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep), and imipramine (Tofranil). Depression is an all-pervasive sense of sadness and gloom. It is believed that in some patients with depression, abnormal levels of neurotransmitters (chemicals that nerves use to communicate with each other) may be the cause of their depression. Desipramine elevates mood by raising the level of neurotransmitters in nerves of the brain. Desipramine also is responsible for the antidepressant effects of imipramine because imipramine is converted by the body to desipramine. The FDA approved desipramine in 1964.
What are the side effects of desipramine?
The most commonly encountered side effects associated with desipramine include:
- fast heart rate,
- blurred vision,
- urinary retention (difficulty urinating),
- dry mouth,
- weight gain or loss,
- low blood pressure upon arising that may cause light-headedness,
- seizures, and
Desipramine also causes elevated pressure in the eyes of some patients with glaucoma. Overdoses of desipramine can cause life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms or seizures. Sexual dysfunction also has been associated with desipramine.
Following prolonged therapy with high doses, abrupt discontinuation of TCAs, including desipramine, could lead to symptoms such as:
Therefore, many doctors recommend a gradual reduction in dose when TCAs are 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 desipramine 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.
Quick GuidePhysical Symptoms of Depression in Pictures
What is the dosage for desipramine?
The usual adult dose is 100-200 mg at bedtime or divided every 12 hours. The maximum dose is 300 mg daily.
Which drugs or supplements interact with desipramine?
: Desipramine interacts with other medications and drugs that slow the brain's function, such as alcohol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, for example, lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), temazepam (Restoril), oxazepam (Serax), clonazepam (Klonopin) as well as zolpidem (Ambien) and narcotics. Reserpine has a stimulatory effect on patients taking TCAs.
Desipramine and other TCAs should not be used with monoamine oxidase inhibiting drugs, for example, isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and procarbazine (Matulane) since high fever, convulsions and even death can occur when these drugs are used together.
Cimetidine (Tagamet) can increase desipramine blood levels, possibly causing side effects. Other drugs which can increase disipramine blood levels include propafenone (Rythmol), flecainide (Tonocard), quinidine (Quinidex, Quinaglute), and fluoxetine (Prozac).
Is desipramine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Desipramine is secreted in breast milk and the effect on nursing infants is known. Nursing should be avoided while taking desipramine.
What else should I know about desipramine?
What preparations of desipramine are available?
Tablets: 10, 25, 50, 75, 100, and 150 mg.
How should I keep desipramine stored?
Desipramine should be stored at room temperature, below 86 F (30 C), in a tight, light resistant container.
Desipramine (Norpramin) is a medication prescribed for the treatment of depression. Off label uses include the treatment of anxiety, ADHD, cataplexy, chronic itching, bulimia, neuropathic pain, panic attacks, and depression caused by a traumatic brain injury. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and patient information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Depression Quiz: Signs & Symptoms
Many people do not recognize the symptoms and warning signs of depression and depressive disorders in children and adults. With...
Panic Attacks (Panic Disorder) Quiz: Test Your Mental Health IQ
Could you suffer a panic attack? Take this Panic Attacks Quiz to learn causes, symptoms, and treatments for panic disorder. Use...
Learn to Spot Depression: Symptoms, Warning Signs, Medication
What is depression? Get information on symptoms, signs, tests, and treatments for many types of depression including major...
Depression Tips: Exercise, Diet, Stress Reduction, and More in Pictures
The right exercise, diet, and activities -- even playing with a pet --can help you recover from depression. Learn simple...
Depression Myths: Overwork, Recklessness and More in Pictures
Explore the myths and facts about depression. See how folk remedies and half-truths still prevent many from getting treatment for...
Physical Symptoms of Depression in Pictures
Depression can cause physical problems such as insomnia, chest pain, fatigue, headaches, and more. Learn the signs of depression...
Healthy Aging: Sneaky Depression Triggers in Pictures
There are many causes and triggers of depression. From too little vitamin B12 to too much time alone, look at these surprising...
Depression Therapy: Myths, Facts, and More in Pictures
False ideas scare many depression suffers away from therapy and the quick relief and help these pros can provide. Let our experts...
Related Disease Conditions
Childhood ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes the following symptoms in children: excessive activity, problems...
People with bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder that involves episodes of bingeing and purging, experience symptoms and signs...
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one...
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, and tender points. Stress...
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptoms, Diet, Treatment, and Test
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a GI (gastrointestinal) disorder with signs and symptoms of: Abdominal...
Peripheral neuropathy is a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include numbness,...
Panic attacks are sudden feelings of terror that strike without warning. These episodes can occur at any time, even during sleep....
Indigestion (Dyspepsia, Upset Stomach Pain) Symptoms, Relief Remedies, Medicine
Indigestion (dyspepsia) can be caused by diseases or conditions that involve the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and also by some...
Itch (Itching or Pruritus)
Itching can be a common problem. Itches can be localized or generalized. There are many causes of itching to include: infection...
Narcolepsy (Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, Medication)
Causes of narcolepsy, a chronic disease of the central nervous system, have not been fully determined. Some theories include...
Separation anxiety disorder is a common childhood anxiety disorder that has many causes. Infants, children, older kids and adults...
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that occurs within a year after delivery. It is thought that rapid hormone changes...
Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
About 2%-6% of adults have ADHD, a common behavioral problem. Symptoms include impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention....
Pain Management: Musculoskeletal Pain
Natural menopause is the permanent ending of menstruation that is not brought on by any type of medical treatment. For women...
Neuropathic pain is a chronic condition that leads to ongoing pain symptoms. Patients can be predisposed to developing...
Depression in Children
Childhood depression can interfere with social activities, interests, schoolwork and family life. Symptoms and signs include...
Depression in teenagers may be caused by many factors. Symptoms of teen depression include apathy, irresponsible behavior,...
Depression in the Elderly
Depression in the elderly is very common. That doesn't mean, though, it's normal. Treatment may involve antidepressants,...
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems,...
Diabetic Neuropathy (Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment)
Diabetic neuropathy a condition in which nerve damage has occurred as a complication of diabetes. The pain from the nerve...
Dysthymia is a less severe form of chronic depression. Symptoms and signs include insomnia, suicidal thoughts, guilt, empty...
Pain management and treatment can be simple or complex, according to its cause. There are two basic types of pain, nociceptive...
Head Injury (Brain Injury)
In the United States, head injuries are one of the most common causes of death and disability. Head injuries due to bleeding are...
Parenting a Child With ADHD
ADHD is a behavioral condition with characteristics that include hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. Parenting a child...
13 Tips for Parenting a Teen With ADHD
Parenting a teenager who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be challenging. Parents can use specific...
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Teens
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in teens is a disruption of neurocognitive functioning. Genetics contribute to...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Depression FAQs
- Panic Attacks Disorder FAQs
- What Are The Side Effects of Nortriptyline Withdrawal?
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal - What to Do with Old or Unusable Medication
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
Medications & Supplements
- amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)
- doxepin (Sinequan and Adapin are discontinued brand in the US; Silenor)
- nortriptyline, Pamelor, Aventyl - has been discontinued in the U.S.
- imipramine, Tofranil, Tofranil-PM
- Drugs: What You Should Know About Your Drugs
- Drug Interactions
- trimipramine (Surmontil)
- Anticholinergic and Antispasmodic Drugs
- Antidepressants (Depression Medications)
- Anxiolytics (for Anxiety) Drug Class Side Effects
Prevention & Wellness
Daily Health News
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Depression Newsletter
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Top desipramine Related Articles
ADHD in ChildrenAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes the following symptoms in children: excessive activity, problems concentrating, and difficulty controlling impulses. There are three types of ADHD: the predominately inattentive type, the predominately hyperactive/impulsive type, and the combined (inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive) type. Stimulant medications are the most common medication used to treat ADHD.
Bulimia NervosaPeople with bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder that involves episodes of bingeing and purging, experience symptoms and signs such as deteriorating teeth, sore throat, constipation, thinning hair, and dehydration. Treatment of bulimia may involve cognitive behavior therapy, family therapy, nutritional counseling, and medication.
DepressionDepression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. The principal types of depression are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (also called manic-depressive disease).
Depression SlideshowWhat is depression? Get information on symptoms, signs, tests, and treatments for many types of depression including major depression, chronic depression, teen depression, and postpartum depression.
Depression QuizMany people do not recognize the symptoms and warning signs of depression and depressive disorders in children and adults. With proper diagnosis, treatments and medications are available. Take this quiz to learn more about recovery from depression.
Depression Tips SlidesThe right exercise, diet, and activities -- even playing with a pet --can help you recover from depression. Learn simple lifestyle changes you can do to improve your mood.
Indigestion (dyspepsia) can be caused by diseases or conditions that involve the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and also by some diseases and conditions that do not involve the GI tract. Indigestion can be a chronic condition in which the symptoms fluctuate infrequency and intensity. Signs and symptoms that accompany indigestion include pain in the chest, upper abdominal pain, belching, nausea, bloating, abdominal distention, feeling full after eating only a small portion of food, and rarely, vomiting.
During pregnancy indigestion may become worse. Home remedies, medication, and lifestyle changes can help relieve and cure indigestion its symptoms.
Fibromyalgia FactsFibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, and tender points. Stress reduction, exercise, and medication are the standard treatments for fibromyalgia.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a GI (gastrointestinal) disorder with signs and symptoms of:
- Abdominal pain
- Increased gas (flatulence)
- Abdominal cramping
- Food intolerance
Two new tests are now available that may help diagnose irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea and constipation (IBS-M) and irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D). Treatment for IBS includes diet changes, medications, and other lifestyle changes to manage symptoms.
ItchItching can be a common problem. Itches can be localized or generalized. There are many causes of itching to include: infection (jock itch, vaginal itch), disease (hyperthyroidism, liver or kidney), reactions to drugs, and skin infestations (pubic or body lice). Treatment for itching varies depending on the cause of the itch.
Myths and Facts About Depression SlideshowExplore the myths and facts about depression. See how folk remedies and half-truths still prevent many from getting treatment for depression. Learn about the unusual symptoms and many ways to recover from depression.
NarcolepsyCauses of narcolepsy, a chronic disease of the central nervous system, have not been fully determined. Some theories include abnormalities in hypocretin neurons in the brain or an autoimmune disorder. Symptoms of narcolepsy include:
- excessive daytime sleepiness,
- hypnagogic hallucinations,
- sleep paralysis,
- disturbed nocturnal sleep, and
- automatic behavior.
Diagnosis of narcolepsy is based on a clinical evaluation, specific questionnaires, sleep logs or diaries, and the results of sleep laboratory tests. Treatments of narcolepsy symptoms include medication and lifestyle changes.
Panic Attacks QuizCould you suffer a panic attack? Take this Panic Attacks Quiz to learn causes, symptoms, and treatments for panic disorder. Use this quiz to learn to recognize the main elements of this serious, yet common disorder known as panic attacks.
Panic DisorderPanic attacks are sudden feelings of terror that strike without warning. These episodes can occur at any time, even during sleep. A person experiencing a panic attack may believe that he or she is having a heart attack or that death is imminent. The fear and terror that a person experiences during a panic attack are not in proportion to the true situation and may be unrelated to what is happening around them. Most people with panic attacks experience several of the following symptoms: racing heartbeat, faintness, dizziness, numbness or tingling in the hands and fingers, chills, chest pains, difficulty breathing, and a feeling of loss or control. There are several treatments for panic attacks.
Peripheral NeuropathyPeripheral neuropathy is a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include numbness, weakness, burning pain (especially at night), and loss of reflexes. Possible causes may include carpel tunnel syndrome, meralgia paresthetica, vitamin or nutritional deficiencies, and illnesses like diabetes, syphilis, AIDS, and kidney failure. Most causes of peripheral neuropathy can be successfully treated or prevented.
Depression Physical SymptomsDepression can cause physical problems such as insomnia, chest pain, fatigue, headaches, and more. Learn the signs of depression that show up in the body.