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Desipramine Side Effects

Not all side effects for desipramine may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

For the Consumer

Applies to desipramine: oral tablet

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by desipramine. In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

You should check with your doctor immediately if any of these side effects occur when taking desipramine:

Incidence not known
  • Abdominal or stomach pain
  • anxiety
  • black, tarry stools
  • blurred or double vision
  • burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • confusion about identity, place, and time
  • convulsions
  • cough or hoarseness
  • dark urine
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • dry mouth
  • fainting
  • fast, irregular, pounding, or racing heartbeat or pulse
  • inability to move the arms, legs, or facial muscles
  • inability to speak
  • irritability
  • light-colored stools
  • lightheadedness
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of bladder control
  • muscle spasms or jerking of all extremities
  • nausea
  • nightmares
  • pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, back, or neck
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pinpoint red or purple spots on the skin
  • pounding in the ears
  • rash
  • restlessness
  • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • shakiness and unsteady walk
  • slow speech
  • sore throat and fever
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • stiffness of the limbs
  • sudden loss of consciousness
  • sweating
  • swelling
  • swollen glands
  • talking, feeling, and acting with excitement
  • trouble sleeping
  • twisting body movements
  • unsteadiness, trembling, or problems with muscle control or coordination
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting
  • yellow eyes and skin

Some of the side effects that can occur with desipramine may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

Incidence not known
  • Abdominal or stomach cramps
  • bigger, dilated, or enlarged pupils (black part of the eye)
  • bloating
  • constipation
  • decrease in the frequency of urination
  • decrease in urine volume
  • decreased interest in sexual intercourse
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty in passing urine (dribbling)
  • hair loss or thinning of the hair
  • inability to have or keep an erection
  • increased in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
  • increased interest in sexual intercourse
  • increased sensitivity of the eyes to light
  • loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
  • painful urination
  • swelling of the breasts or breast soreness in both females and males
  • swelling or inflammation of the mouth
  • unexpected or excess milk flow from breasts in females

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to desipramine: compounding powder, oral tablet


The most commonly reported side effects were tremor, dizziness, headache, dry mouth, constipation, and nausea.[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Confusional states (especially in the elderly) with hallucinations, disorientation, delusions, anxiety, restlessness, agitation, insomnia, nightmares, hypomania, exacerbation of psychosis, increased or decreased libido, suicidal behaviors[Ref]

Nervous system

Frequency not reported: Numbness, tingling, paresthesias of extremities, incoordination, ataxia, tremors, peripheral neuropathy, extrapyramidal symptoms, seizures, alterations in EEG patterns, tinnitus, stroke, symptoms attributed to Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome, drowsiness, dizziness, proneness to falling, headache, serotonin syndrome[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Hypotension, hypertension, palpitations, heart block, myocardial infarction, arrhythmias, premature ventricular contractions, tachycardia, ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, sudden death, flushing[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Gynecomastia in the male, breast enlargement and galactorrhea in the female, elevation or depression of blood sugar levels, syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH)[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Urinary retention, delayed micturition, dilation of urinary tract, impotence, painful ejaculation, testicular swelling, urinary frequency, nocturia[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Blurred vision, disturbance of accommodation, mydriasis, increased intraocular pressure[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Hepatitis, jaundice (simulating obstructive), altered liver function, elevated liver function tests[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Bone marrow depressions including agranulocytosis, eosinophilia, purpura, thrombocytopenia, petechia[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Edema, drug fever, weakness, fatigue, fever, elevated alkaline phosphatase, malaise[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Dry mouth (rarely associated with sublingual adenitis), constipation, paralytic ileus, nausea, vomiting, epigastric distress, peculiar taste, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, stomatitis, black tongue, increased pancreatic enzymes, parotid swelling[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Cross-sensitivity with other tricyclic drugs[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Skin rash, urticaria, itching, photosensitization, perspiration, alopecia[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Weight gain or loss, anorexia[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Norpramin (desipramine)." Hoechst Marion-Roussel Inc, Kansas City, MO.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.