- What is imipramine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for imipramine?
- Is imipramine available as a generic drug?
- What are the side effects of imipramine?
- What is the dosage for imipramine?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with imipramine?
- Is imipramine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about imipramine?
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 are the side effects of imipramine?
The most common side effects of imipramine are:
- increased heart rate,
- heart palpitations,
- blurred vision,
- difficulty urinating,
- dry mouth,
- weight gain or loss,
- hives, and
Other important side effects include:
- high blood pressure,
- low blood pressure when standing (orthostatic hypotension),
- heart attack,
- hepatitis, and
- abnormal heart beats
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.
What is the dosage for imipramine?
The dose range for treating depression is 75 to 300 mg daily. It may be given as a single dose or in divided doses. The recommended dose for enuresis is 10 to 75 mg daily at bedtime.
Which drugs or supplements interact with imipramine?
Other medications and drugs that slow the brain's processes, such as alcohol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, for example, lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), temazepam (Restoril), oxazepam (Serax), clonazepam (Klonopin), zolpidem (Ambien), and narcotics, may add to the effect of imipramine on the brain.
Reserpine, given to patients taking TCAs, can cause agitation and anxiety. Imipramine 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.
Concurrent use of cimetidine (Tagamet) can increase imipramine blood levels by reducing elimination of imipramine from the body and possibly lead to imipramine- related side effects. Other drugs which share this effect include propafenone (Rythmol), flecainide (Tonocard), quinidine (Quinidex, Quinaglute), methylphenidate (Ritalin), and fluoxetine (Prozac).
Is imipramine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Use of imipramine during pregnancy has not been adequately evaluated.
Available evidence suggests that imipramine may be excreted in breast milk and may be harmful to the infant.
Imipramine (Tofranil, Tofranil-PM) is an antidepressant medication prescribed for the treatment of depression, bedwetting, and chronic pain. Side effects, drug interactions, pregnancy safety, and precautions should be reviewed prior to taking this 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...
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...
Postpartum Depression: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
Postpartum depression is a treatable medical illness which affects women after giving birth. Learn about the symptoms, diagnosis...
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...
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a GI (gastrointestinal) disorder with signs and symptoms that include abdominal pain, bloating,...
Migraine headache is a type of headache associated with a sensitivity to light, smells, or sounds, eye pain, severe pounding on...
Bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis, is the accidental passage of urine while asleep. There are two types of bedwetting: primary...
There are many types of urinary incontinence (UI), which is the accidental leakage of urine. These types include stress...
Overactive Bladder (OAB)
Overactive bladder is a sudden involuntary contraction of the muscle wall of the bladder causing urinary urgency (an immediate...
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....
Dysthymia is a less severe form of chronic depression. Symptoms and signs include insomnia, suicidal thoughts, guilt, empty...
Urinary Incontinence in Children
Urinary incontinence in children (enuresis) is twice as common in boys as in girls and may occur during the daytime or nighttime....
Nerve Disease and Bladder Control
A nerve problem might affect your bladder control if the nerves that are supposed to carry messages between the brain and the...
Urinary retention (inability to urinate) may be caused by nerve disease, spinal cord injury, prostate enlargement, infection,...
People who have bladder spasms, the sensation occurs suddenly and often severely. A spasm itself is the sudden, involuntary...
Duck syndrome is a situation initially coined at Stanford University whereby a college student may seem to be calm on the surface...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Depression FAQs
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Treatment
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- What Are The Side Effects of Nortriptyline Withdrawal?
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
- amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)
- nortriptyline, Pamelor, Aventyl - has been discontinued in the U.S.
- desipramine, Norpramin
- Drugs: Questions to Ask Your Doctor or Pharmacist about Your Drugs
- Drug Interactions
- trimipramine (Surmontil)
- Anticholinergic and Antispasmodic Drugs
- Antidepressants (Depression Medications)
- Anxiolytics (for Anxiety) Drug Class Side Effects
Prevention & Wellness
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
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.