Skip to content


    DEA Class;  Rx

    Common Brand Names; Norpramin

    • Antidepressants, TCAs

    Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) of the dibenzazepine type; desipramine is the active metabolite of imipramine
    FDA-approved for major depression in adults; evidence for off-label uses is low compared to established first-line treatments
    Boxed warning for use in pediatric patients and young adults due to risk for suicidality

    Indicated for the treatment of major depression.

    For the treatment of social phobia (social anxiety disorder) and panic disorder.
    For the treatment of bulimia nervosa, as an adjunct to cognitive behavioral therapy.
    For the treatment of pain due to postherpetic neuralgia.
    For the treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy.
    For the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
    For the improvement of global symptoms of diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome.


    Acute recovery post-MI

    Within 14 days of taking MAO inhibitor


    • Fatigue

    • Lethargy

    • Sedation

    • Weakness

    • Constipation

    • Dry mouth

    • Blurred vision

    Less Common

    • Agitation

    • Anxiety

    • Headache

    • Insomnia

    • Nausea

    • Vomiting

    • Sweating


    • ECG changes, orthostatic hypotension, tachycardia

    • Confusion, dizziness, paresthesia

    • Extrapyramidal symptoms

    • Rash

    • Elevated LFTs

    • Sexual dysfunction

    • Tinnitus


    • Seizure

    • Agranulocytosis

    • Eosinophilia

    • Leukopenia

    • Thrombocytopenia

    • SIADH

    Use caution in BPH and respiratory impairment

    Risk of anticholinergic side effects

    Clinical studies did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects; other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients

    This drug is known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of toxic reactions to this drug may be greater in patients with impaired renal function; because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal function, care should be taken in dose selection, and it may be useful to monitor renal function

    Use caution in patients with cardiovascular disease, because of possibility of conduction defects, arrhythmias, tachycardias, strokes, and acute myocardial infarction

    Caution in patients who have a family history of sudden death, cardiac dysrhythmias, or cardiac conduction disturbances

    Use caution in patients with a history of urinary retention or glaucoma, because of the anticholinergic properties of the drug

    Caution in patients with thyroid disease or those taking thyroid medication, because of possibility of cardiovascular toxicity, including arrhythmias

    Caution in patients with a history of seizure disorder, because this drug has been shown to lower seizure threshold; seizures precede cardiac dysrhythmias and death in some patients

    The pupillary dilation that occurs following use of many antidepressant drugs may trigger an angle-closure attack in a patient with anatomically narrow angles who does not have a patent iridectomy

    The patient should be cautioned that this drug may impair the mental and/or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as driving a car or operating machinery

    There is a pregnancy exposure registry that monitors pregnancy outcomes in women exposed to antidepressants during pregnancy

    Safe use during lactation has not been established; therefore, if it is to be given to pregnant patients, nursing mothers, or women of childbearing potential, the possible benefits must be weighed against possible hazards to mother and child


    200 mg/day PO in outpatients; 300 mg/day PO for hospitalized patients.


    150 mg/day PO.


    150 mg/day PO.


    >= 6 years: Safety and efficacy have not been established; however doses up to 5 mg/kg/day PO have been used for depression; use close monitoring for > 3 mg/kg/day PO.
    < 6 years: Safety and efficacy have not been established.

    Desipramine hydrochloride


    • 10mg
    • 25mg
    • 50mg
    • 75mg
    • 100mg
    • 150mg