Generic Name: imipramine (Oral route)
Medically reviewed on September 3, 2018
In short-term studies, antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior compared with placebo in children, adolescents, and young adults with psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder (MDD); there was not an increased risk of suicidality with antidepressants in adults older than 24 years and there was a decreased risk in adults aged 65 years or older. The risk of suicidal thinking and behavior should be balanced with the clinical need for therapy and patients should be monitored closely; instruct families and caregivers to communicate any changes in behavior with the prescriber. Not approved for use in pediatric patients .Oral route(Capsule)
Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies with major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. This risk must be balanced with the clinical need. Short term studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidality with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults beyond age 24, and there was a reduction in risk with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults aged 65 and older. Monitor all patients closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. Families and caregivers should be advised of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber. Imipramine pamoate is not approved for use in pediatric patients .
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Antidepressant
Pharmacologic Class: Antidepressant, Tricyclic
Uses For Tofranil
Imipramine is used to treat depression. It belongs to a group of medicines known as tricyclic antidepressants (TCA). These medicines are thought to work by increasing the activity of a chemical called serotonin in the brain.
Imipramine tablets are also used to treat enuresis (bedwetting) in children.
This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before Using Tofranil
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of imipramine capsules to treat depression in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of imipramine tablets in children with enuresis (bedwetting) younger than 6 years of age. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of imipramine in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related kidney, liver, or heart problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving imipramine.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
- Methylene Blue
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Amtolmetin Guacil
- Aripiprazole Lauroxil
- Arsenic Trioxide
- Chloral Hydrate
- Choline Salicylate
- Flufenamic Acid
- Inotuzumab Ozogamicin
- Iobenguane I 123
- Mefenamic Acid
- Morphine Sulfate Liposome
- Niflumic Acid
- Nimesulide Beta Cyclodextrin
- Peginterferon Alfa-2b
- Salicylic Acid
- Secretin Human
- Sodium Phosphate
- Sodium Phosphate, Dibasic
- Sodium Phosphate, Monobasic
- Sodium Salicylate
- Tiaprofenic Acid
- Tolfenamic Acid
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following is usually not recommended, but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use this medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Using this medicine with any of the following may cause an increased risk of certain side effects but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use this medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Bipolar disorder (mood disorder with mania and depression), or risk of or
- Diabetes or
- Glaucoma (angle-closure type), or
- Heart or blood vessel disease or
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or
- Mania, history of or
- Schizophrenia (mental illness) or
- Seizures, history of or
- Urinary retention (trouble urinating), history of—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Heart attack, recent—Should not be used in patients with this condition.
- Kidney disease or
- Liver disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body.
Proper Use of imipramine
This section provides information on the proper use of a number of products that contain imipramine. It may not be specific to Tofranil. Please read with care.
Take this medicine only as directed by your doctor to benefit your condition as much as possible. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered.
This medicine comes with a Medication Guide. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.
The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage form (capsules):
- For depression:
- Adults—At first, 75 milligrams (mg) once a day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 200 mg per day, unless you are in the hospital. Some hospitalized patients may need higher doses.
- Teenagers and older adults—At first, 25 to 50 mg per day using the tablets. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed and switch you to the capsule form. However, the dose is usually not more than 100 mg per day.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For depression:
- For oral dosage form (tablets):
- For depression:
- Adults—At first, 75 milligrams (mg) per day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However the dose is usually not more than 200 mg per day. Some hospitalized patients may need higher doses.
- Teenagers and older adults—30 to 40 mg per day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 100 mg per day.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For enuresis (bedwetting):
- Children 6 years of age and older—At first, 25 milligrams (mg) once a day, taken 1 hour before bedtime. Your doctor may adjust the dose as needed.
- Children younger than 6 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For depression:
If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Precautions While Using Tofranil
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to allow for changes in your dose and to check for any unwanted effects. Blood tests may be needed to check for any unwanted effects. Check with your doctor right away if you start having a fever or sore throat while taking this medicine.
Do not take imipramine with a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor (eg, isocarboxazid [Marplan®], linezolid [Zyvox®], methylene blue injection, phenelzine [Nardil®], selegiline [Eldepryl®, or tranylcypromine [Parnate®]). Do not start taking imipramine during the 2 weeks after you stop a MAO inhibitor and wait 2 weeks after stopping imipramine before you start taking a MAO inhibitor. If you do take them together or do not wait 2 weeks, you may develop confusion, agitation, restlessness, stomach or intestinal symptoms, a sudden high body temperature, an extremely high blood pressure, or severe convulsions.
Imipramine may cause some teenagers and young adults to be agitated, irritable, or display other abnormal behaviors. It may also cause some people to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies or to become more depressed. Some people may have trouble sleeping, get upset easily, have a big increase in energy, or start to act reckless. If you, your child, or your caregiver notice any of these side effects, tell your doctor or your child's doctor right away. Let the doctor know if you or anyone in your family has bipolar disorder (manic-depressive) or has tried to commit suicide.
Imipramine may cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome if taken together with some medicines. Do not use imipramine with buspirone (Buspar®), fentanyl (Abstral®, Duragesic®), lithium (Eskalith®, Lithobid®), methylene blue injection, tryptophan, St. John's wort, or some pain or migraine medicines (eg, rizatriptan, sumatriptan, tramadol, Frova®, Imitrex®, Maxalt®, Relpax®, Ultram®, Zomig®). Check with your doctor first before taking any other medicines with imipramine.
Do not suddenly stop taking this medicine without first checking with your doctor. Your doctor may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are using before stopping it completely. This will decrease the chance of having withdrawal symptoms such as agitation, breathing problems, chest pain, confusion, diarrhea, dizziness or lightheadedness, fast heartbeat, headache, increased sweating, muscle pain, nausea, restlessness, runny nose, trouble in sleeping, trembling or shaking, unusual tiredness or weakness, vision changes, or vomiting.
This medicine will add to the effects of alcohol and other central nervous system (CNS) depressants (medicines that cause drowsiness). Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for hay fever, other allergies or colds, sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicines, prescription pain medicine or narcotics, medicine for seizures or barbiturates, muscle relaxants, or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics. Check with your doctor before taking any of the above while you are using this medicine.
Before having any kind of surgery, tell the medical doctor in charge that you are using this medicine. Taking imipramine together with medicines used during surgery may increase the risk of side effects.
This medicine may affect blood sugar levels. If you notice a change in the results of your blood or urine sugar tests, or if you have any questions, check with your doctor.
This medicine may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Use a sunscreen when you are outdoors. Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.
This medicine may cause some people to become drowsy or less alert than they are normally. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are drowsy or not alert.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Tofranil Side Effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Incidence not known
- Abdominal or stomach pain
- blurred vision
- burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
- chest pain or discomfort
- clay-colored stools
- cold sweats
- confusion about identity, place, and time
- continuing ringing or buzzing or other unexplained noise in the ears
- cough or hoarseness
- dark urine
- decrease in the frequency of urination
- difficulty in passing urine (dribbling)
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
- double vision
- dry mouth
- false beliefs that cannot be changed by facts
- fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
- feeling, seeing, or hearing things that are not there
- feeling that others are watching you or controlling your behavior
- feeling that others can hear your thoughts
- fever with or without chills
- flushed, dry skin
- general feeling of tiredness or weakness
- hearing loss
- inability to move the arms, legs, or facial muscles
- itching or rash
- lack of coordination
- loss of balance control
- lower back or side pain
- mood or mental changes
- muscle spasm or jerking of all extremities
- muscle trembling, jerking, or stiffness
- pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, back, or neck
- painful or difficult urination
- pinpoint red or purple spots on the skin
- rapid weight gain
- redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest
- shakiness and unsteady walk
- slow speech
- sore throat
- stiffness of the limbs
- swelling of the face, ankles, legs, or hands
- talking, feeling, and acting with excitement
- trouble sleeping
- twisting movements of the body
- uncontrolled movements, especially of the face, neck, and back
- unusual behavior
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- weakness in the arms, hands, legs, or feet
- yellow eyes or skin
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:
Symptoms of overdose
- Bluish color of fingernails, lips, skin, palms, or nail beds
- cold, clammy skin
- decreased awareness or responsiveness
- difficult or troubled breathing
- fast, weak pulse
- irregular, fast, slow, or shallow breathing
- severe sleepiness
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
Incidence not known
- Bigger, dilated, or enlarged pupils (black part of the eye)
- black tongue
- decreased interest or ability in sexual intercourse
- difficulty having a bowel movement (stool)
- enlargement of the breast
- hives or welts
- increase in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
- increased sensitivity of the eyes to light
- increased urge to urinate during the night
- peculiar taste
- redness or other discoloration of the skin
- severe sunburn
- swelling of the testicles
- swelling of the breasts or breast soreness in both females and males
- swollen, painful, or tender lymph glands on the side of the face or neck
- unexpected or excess milk flow from the breasts
- waking to urinate at night
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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More about Tofranil (imipramine)
- Tofranil Side Effects
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- Drug class: tricyclic antidepressants