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Generic Name: desipramine (des IP ra meen)
Brand Name: Norpramin

Medically reviewed by on Jul 3, 2019 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is Norpramin?

Norpramin is a tricyclic antidepressant. This medicine affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with depression.

Norpramin is used to treat symptoms of depression.

Norpramin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You should not use Norpramin 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.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Norpramin if you are allergic to it, or:

  • if you have recently had a heart attack.

Do not use Norpramin 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 this medicine.

To make sure Norpramin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • bipolar disorder (manic-depression) or schizophrenia;

  • a history of mental illness or psychosis;

  • liver disease;

  • heart disease;

  • a family history of sudden death related to a heart rhythm disorder;

  • a history of heart attack, stroke, or seizures;

  • a thyroid disorder;

  • diabetes (Norpramin may raise or lower blood sugar);

  • glaucoma; or

  • 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 Norpramin 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.

Norpramin is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.

How should I take Norpramin?

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 Norpramin in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using Norpramin. 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 Norpramin 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 Norpramin 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 Norpramin.

Norpramin 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. Norpramin can make you sunburn more easily. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) when you are outdoors.

Norpramin 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.

What other drugs will affect Norpramin?

Taking Norpramin with other drugs that make you sleepy can worsen this effect. Ask your doctor before taking Norpramin 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 Norpramin.

Many drugs can interact with Norpramin. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:

This list is not complete and many other drugs can interact with Norpramin. 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.

Further information

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.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.