Desipramine is a tricyclic antidepressant primarily used to treat major depression. Doctors may also prescribe it off-label for several conditions, including overactive bladder, neuropathic pain, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Desipramine is typically not prescribed to children below 13 years. For best results and to avoid side effects, this medication is recommended for adults above the age of 18 years.

Desipramine blocks the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin, pivotal neurotransmitters involved in regulating mood. By impeding their reabsorption into nerve cells, Desipramine increases the level of these chemical messengers in the brain, thereby alleviating symptoms associated with depression.

In addition, Desipramine influences other neurotransmitters and ion channels, enhancing its therapeutic effects.

Desipramine Precautions and Warnings

  • Cardiovascular Effects: Desipramine can cause changes in heart rhythm, especially in individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions. Patients with a history of heart disease, arrhythmias, or recent heart attacks should use Desipramine with caution and under close medical supervision.
  • Glaucoma and Aqueous Leakage: Patients with a history of glaucoma should use Desipramine with caution and under the supervision of an ophthalmologist. This medication can increase intraocular pressure, making glaucoma symptoms worse.
  • Serotonin Syndrome: Watch for symptoms of serotonin syndrome, especially if you combine it with other serotonin depressants.
  • Urinary Retention: If you have urinary problems make sure to use this medication with caution. Desipramine may increase urinary retention, especially in individuals with an enlarged prostate and other urinary tract infections.
  • Regular Monitoring: Regular follow-up with your health care provider is essential to adjust dosage and monitor results.
  • Renal Disorders: Since Desipramine is primarily excreted by the kidneys, impaired renal function may result in increased drug levels and potential toxicity. Dosage adjustments may be necessary in patients with renal problems.
  • Suicidal Ideation and Behavior: Watch out for signs of suicidal ideation and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults (under 24 years of age) taking Desipramine for major depression and other mental illnesses.  The medication may worsen such effects.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as Desipramine may not be appropriate for use in these situations.

Side Effects of Desipramine

Desipramine can cause a variety of side effects, some of which may require medical attention.

Common Side Effects

  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Weight gain
  • Rash
  • Itching/swelling, especially of the face/tongue/throat
  • Dizziness

Serious Side Effects

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Severe dizziness or fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Increased anxiety or agitation
  • Worsening depression
  • Suicidal thoughts, particularly in young adults and adolescents
  • Trouble breathing

Drug Interactions with Desipramine

Desipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant, has the potential to interact with a variety of other drugs due to its effects on neurotransmitter systems and metabolic pathways. Healthcare providers need to be aware of these potential drug interactions when prescribing Desipramine to ensure the treatment is safer and more effective

Drug Interaction
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)Concurrent use can lead to severe, potentially life-threatening interactions. A two-week interval is required between discontinuing MAOIs and starting Desipramine.
Serotonergic DrugsCombining Desipramine with serotonergic medications can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome.
Anticholinergic AgentsCombining these two medications can lead to enhanced anticholinergic effects, such as dry mouth, constipation, and blurred vision, may occur.
CimetidineTaking cimetidine together with Desipramine can increase Desipramine levels in the body, heightening the risk of side effects.
CNS DepressantsUsing Saphris and CNS depressants like alcohol, sedatives, and other central nervous system depressants concurrently can exacerbate sedative effects such as dizziness.
Blood Pressure MedicationsTaking blood pressure drugs while using Desipramine can interfere with the efficacy of antihypertensive drugs, potentially leading to increased blood pressure.
AntiarrhythmicSaphris may increase the risk of cardiac side effects when taken with medications for heart rhythm disorders.

Strengths and Dosages of Desipramine

AgeDosingNo. of Times Per Day
Minimum DosageMaximum Dosage
Children 13 to 17 years of age25- 50 mg/day100 mg/dayOnce a day
Adults 18 years and above25-100 mg/day200 mg/dayOnce a day
65 years and older25- 50mg/day100- 200mg/dayonce a day

Desipramine should be taken at the lowest possible dose and can be taken once or twice a day as advised. The medication is administered in capsules or tablets, which are taken with or without meals.

Desipramine is intended for long-term use and is considered to have a low risk of dependency. You should follow the standard dosages as advised by the doctor. Do not stop taking the medicine without a doctor’s advice even when the symptoms improve.

Cost of Desipramine in the USA

Desipramine can be obtained for around $92 for 100 tablets of 10mg oral tablets. This price applies to customers who pay cash and does not apply to those who use insurance plans.

Why is Desipramine so Expensive?

The identification, development, and clinical trials of any new drug are always expensive and take time. Research and development expenses are usually recovered by the cost of the drug to the health facility or other buyers.

The number of co-subsidized Desipramine products may also differ greatly, depending on the patient’s insurance and the pharmacological provider. There are some insurance options where the medicine is not covered or the co-pay is very high, subsequently raising the total cost.

Desipramine Alternatives

While Despramine (norpramin) is quite effective in treating a wide range of conditions, doctors can prescribe some other medicines for patients who cannot take this drug for one reason or another. Some of these alternatives include:

  • Wellbutrin (Bupropion Hydrochloride)
  • Doxepin
  • Amoxapine
  • Rexulti (Brexpiprazole)
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
  • Prozac
  • Amitriptyline
  • Imipramine (Tofranil)
  • Surmontil
  • Cymbalta
  • Trimipramine
  • Nortriptyline (Pamelor)

Desipramine FAQs

What is Desipramine used for

Desipramine is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) administered to treat symptoms of depression. While Desipramine is FDA-approved for major depressive disorder, it is also effective in treating certain cases of neuropathic pain and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

How does Desipramine Work?

Desipramine prevents the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin, which are involved in regulating mood. By blocking their reabsorption into nerve cells, Desipramine increases the level of these chemical messengers in the brain, thereby enhancing mood and reducing symptoms of depression.

How long does it take for Desipramine to work?

Expect Desipramine to work in 2-5 days, with full benefits occurring after about 2 to 3 weeks.

How long does it take for Desipramine to leave your system?

The elimination half-life of Desipramine is around 20 to 30 hours. This means it takes approximately 4 to 6 days for the medication to completely leave your system after discontinuation.

What are the common side effects of Desipramine?

the common side effects of Desipramine include dry mouth, constipation, drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, and weight gain.

What should I do if I experience side effects from Desipramine?

If you experience side effects, contact your healthcare provider immediately to help adjust your dosage or switch to an alternative medication if necessary.

How long does it take for Desipramine to work?

Desipramine typically starts to work within 2 to 5 days of starting treatment. However, it may take 2 to 3 weeks to experience the full therapeutic benefits.

Who manufactures Desipramine?

Desipramine (Norpramin) is the brand-name version manufactured by Aventis Pharmaceuticals.

Is there a difference between the brand-name and generic versions of Desipramine?

Both the brand-name (Norpramin) and generic versions of Desipramine contain the same active ingredient and are expected to have the same therapeutic effects. However, there may be differences in inactive ingredients, which can affect tolerability in some individuals.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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