Desipramine (Oral Route)

1 Desipramine (Oral Route): A Summary

Brand Name:


Desipramine is a tricyclic antidepressant used for the treatment of depression. This drug works by increasing the activity of a chemical called norepinephrine in the brain. This drug requires a prescription.

2 What to Know Before Using

Before taking this drug, the risks and benefits for your body should be discussed with your healthcare provider. Inform your healthcare provider for any allergic reactions to these drugs or any other drugs, foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. 

Carefully read the label of non-prescription drugs for any possible allergic reaction or contraindications. Studies in children regarding the relationship of age to the effects of desipramine have not been performed while safety and efficacy have not been established. Studies in the elderly have not demonstrated any geriatric-specific problems that would limit the utility of desipramine. 

Adjustments in the dose of the elderly may be required since they are more likely to have confusion, falling episodes, and age-related kidney problems. Infant risk is still undetermined when using this drug during breastfeeding. Discuss with your healthcare professional about the potential risks and benefits before taking this drug while breastfeeding. 

Drugs should not be taken together to prevent any interactions but in necessary cases inquire your healthcare provider regarding the adjustments in dosage or any other necessary precautions to prevent any unwanted side effects. Inform your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription and nonprescription drugs. 

Intake of specific food or using alcohol or tobacco with this drug is associated with an increased risk of certain side effects. Your healthcare professional can give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco. 

Inform your healthcare provider for any other medical problems such as Behavior and mood changes, Diabetes, Glaucoma, Heart rhythm problems, Schizophrenia, Seizures, Urinary retention, Bipolar disorder, Heart attack, Heart or blood vessel disease, Thyroid disease, or Kidney disease.

3 Proper Usage

To prevent any side effects, take this drug exactly as directed in the label or as prescribed by your healthcare professional. Inform your healthcare professional if you are taking other drugs to treat depression, such as amitriptyline, citalopram, fluoxetine, nortriptyline, paroxetine, or sertraline. It is recommended to wait at least 5 weeks after you stop using fluoxetine before you can start using desipramine. 

The dose of this drug will be variable for different patients. The directions on the label or the prescription by your healthcare professional should be followed. The dosage of this drug you take depends on the medical problem for which you are using this drug. Adults with depression are given 100 to 200 milligrams once a day or in divided doses during the day. 

Your healthcare professional may adjust your dose if necessary. The dose must not exceed 300 mg per day. Older adults and teenagers are given 25 to 100 mg once a day or in divided doses during the day. Your healthcare professional may adjust your dose if necessary. The dose must not exceed 150 mg per day. Use and dose in children must be determined by your healthcare professional. 

A missed dose should be taken as soon as possible. However, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule if it is almost time for your next dose. Store the drug in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing. 

Keep out of the reach of children. Dispose any outdated or expired drugs and ask your healthcare professional for the proper disposal of the drugs.

4 Precautions to Take

Regular visits should be made to your healthcare provider to track your progress and to monitor the effectiveness of the drug. Unwanted effects can be screened using blood tests. This drug can induce suicidal thoughts in teenagers and adults. 

Inform your healthcare professional immediately if you start to feel more depressed and have thoughts about hurting yourself, or any unusual thoughts or behaviors that trouble you, especially if they are new or are getting worse quickly. Notify your healthcare professional if you have trouble sleeping, get upset easily, have a big increase in energy, or start to act reckless. 

Tell the healthcare professional if you have sudden or strong feelings, such as feeling nervous, angry, restless, violent, or scared. Inform your healthcare professional if you or anyone in your family has bipolar disorder or has tried to commit suicide. This drug must not be taken with a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor such as isocarboxazid, phenelzine, selegiline, or tranylcypromine. 

You must wait 2 weeks after you have taken this drug to prevent any development of confusion, agitation, restlessness, stomach or intestinal symptoms, a sudden high body temperature, an extremely high blood pressure, or severe convulsions. Check with your healthcare professional first before taking any other drugs with desipramine to prevent any unwanted effect such as serotonin syndrome

Check with your healthcare professional before you stop taking this drug without. Your healthcare professional may slowly taper the amount you are using before stopping it completely to prevent a possible worsening of your condition and reduce the possibility of withdrawal symptoms such as headache, nausea, or a general feeling of discomfort or illness. 

This drug will potentiate the effects of alcohol and other central nervous system depressants such as antihistamines or drug for hay fever, other allergies or colds, sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping drugs, prescription pain drug or narcotics, drug for seizures or barbiturates, muscle relaxants, or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics. 

Check with your healthcare professional if you are diabetic and notice a change in the results of your blood or urine sugar tests since this drug can either cause changes in your blood sugar. Inform the healthcare professional in charge that you are using this drug before having any kind of surgery since taking this drug together with drugs used during surgery may increase the risk of side effects. 

Check with your healthcare professional immediately if you have symptoms of an eye problem such as vision changes, such as blurred vision, difficulty reading, or eye pain, during or after treatment. This drug can cause drowsiness or reduced which will require caution using this drug before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are drowsy or not alert. 

Check with your healthcare professional before you take any other prescription or nonprescription drugs, and herbal or vitamin supplements.

5 Potential Side Effects

Side effects may vary for each individual and prompt medical attention should be given if they occur. Seek advice from your healthcare professional immediately if you experience any unusual symptoms such as: 

  • 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, or yellow eyes and skin

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the drug, the side effects will slowly disappear. Ask your healthcare professional about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. 

If any of the following side effects persists, or are inconvenient, or if you notice any other effects, or if you have any questions about them, consult with your health care professional. Report any side effects to the FDA hotline at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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