Generic Name: desipramine (des IP ra meen)
Brand Name: Norpramin
What is desipramine?
Desipramine is a tricyclic antidepressant. Desipramine affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with depression.
Desipramine is used to treat symptoms of depression.
Desipramine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What is the most important information I should know about desipramine?
You should not use this medicine if you have recently had a heart attack.
Do not use this medicine within 14 days before or after taking an MAO inhibitor, such as isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine.
Some young people have thoughts about suicide when first taking an antidepressant. Stay alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking desipramine?
You should not use desipramine if you are allergic to it, or:
if you have recently had a heart attack.
Do not use desipramine if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others. Do not take an MAOI for at least 2 weeks after you stop taking desipramine.
To make sure desipramine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
bipolar disorder (manic-depression) or schizophrenia;
a history of mental illness or psychosis;
a family history of sudden death related to a heart rhythm disorder;
a history of heart attack, stroke, or seizures;
a thyroid disorder;
diabetes (desipramine may raise or lower blood sugar);
problems with urination.
Some young people have thoughts about suicide when first taking an antidepressant. Your doctor should check your progress at regular visits. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms.
It is not known whether desipramine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine.
Desipramine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using desipramine.
Desipramine is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.
How should I take desipramine?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using desipramine. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.
It may take up to 4 weeks before your symptoms improve. Keep using the medication as directed and tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve.
Do not stop using desipramine suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using this medicine.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of desipramine can be fatal.
What should I avoid while taking desipramine?
Do not drink alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death can occur when alcohol is combined with desipramine.
This medicine may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. Desipramine can make you sunburn more easily. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) when you are outdoors.
Desipramine side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, seeing halos around lights;
new or worsening chest pain, pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest;
sudden numbness or weakness, problems with vision, speech, or balance;
fever, sore throat;
easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum);
hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior;
painful or difficult urination;
upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
seizure (convulsions); or
severe nervous system reaction--very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out.
Serious side effects may be more likely in older adults and those who are ill or debilitated.
Common side effects may include:
tingly feeling, weakness, lack of coordination;
confusion, sleep problems (insomnia);
dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea;
vision changes, ringing in your ears;
breast swelling (in men or women); or
decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Desipramine dosing information
Usual Adult Dose for Depression:
100 to 200 mg orally per day
Maximum dose: 300 mg orally per day
-Dosage should be initiated at a lower level and increased according to tolerance and clinical response.
-In severely ill patients, dosage may be further increased to 300 mg per day if needed.
-Treatment of patients requiring as much as 300 mg should generally be initiated in hospitals.
Use: Treatment of depression
Usual Geriatric Dose for Depression:
25 to 100 mg orally per day
Maximum dose: 150 mg orally per day
-The dose should be gradually increased according to tolerance and clinical response.
Use: Treatment of depression
What other drugs will affect desipramine?
Taking this medicine with other drugs that make you sleepy can worsen this effect. Ask your doctor before taking desipramine with a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.
Tell your doctor if you have used an "SSRI" antidepressant in the past 5 weeks, such as citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine, paroxetine, sertraline (Zoloft), trazodone, or vilazodone.
You must wait at least 5 weeks after stopping fluoxetine (Prozac) before you can take desipramine.
Many drugs can interact with desipramine. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:
any other antidepressant;
St. John's wort;
tryptophan (sometimes called L-tryptophan);
medicine to treat mood disorders, thought disorders, or mental illness--buspirone, lithium, and many others;
migraine headache medicine--rizatriptan, sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, and others; or
narcotic pain medicine--fentanyl, tramadol.
This list is not complete and many other drugs can interact with desipramine. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Give a list of all your medicines to any healthcare provider who treats you.
More about desipramine
- Other brands: Norpramin
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about desipramine.
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
- Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. 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 drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 11.01.
Date modified: October 14, 2016
Last reviewed: July 14, 2016