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Desipramine (By mouth)

Desipramine (des-IP-ra-meen)

Treats depression. This medicine is a tricyclic antidepressant.

Brand Name(s):


There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

Do not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to desipramine or if you have had a recent heart attack. Do not use this medicine and an MAO inhibitor (MAOI), such as Eldepryl®, Marplan®, Nardil®, Parnate®, linezolid (Zyvox®), or methylene blue, within 14 days of each other.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Take your medicine as directed. Your dose may need to be changed several times to find what works best for you.
  • It may take several weeks before you notice an improvement in your symptoms. Keep using this medicine as your doctor has told you.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Ask your pharmacist for a copy if you do not have one.

If a dose is missed:

  • Take a dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are taking buspirone (Buspar®), cimetidine (Tagamet®), fentanyl (Abstral®, Duragesic®), guanethidine (Ismelin®), lithium (Eskalith®, Lithobid®), St John's wort, tryptophan, pain or migraine medicines (such as sumatriptan, tramadol, Frova®, Maxalt®, Relpax®, Zomig®), thyroid medicine (such as levothyroxine, liothyronine, Cytomel®, Levoxyl®, Synthroid®), medicine for heart rhythm problems (such as flecainide, propafenone, quinidine, Tambocor®), or a phenothiazine medicine (such as promethazine, Phenergan®, Thorazine®).
  • Do not use this medicine if you currently use an MAO inhibitor (MAOI) such as Eldepryl®, linezolid (Zyvox®), Marplan®, methylene blue, Nardil®, or Parnate®.
  • Tell your doctor if you are also using other medicine to treat depression, such as amitriptyline, citalopram, fluoxetine, nortriptyline, paroxetine, sertraline, Cymbalta®, Effexor®, Elavil®, Lexapro®, or Pristiq®. You must wait at least 5 weeks after you stop using fluoxetine (Prozac®, Sarafem®) before you can start using desipramine.
  • Tell your doctor if you drink alcohol or if you are using any medicine that makes you sleepy, such as allergy medicine or narcotic pain medicine.
  • Do not drink alcohol in excess while you are using this medicine. Alcohol may increase thoughts of suicide.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease or urination problems; heart, blood vessel or thyroid problems; schizophrenia; or a history of seizures or glaucoma.
  • This medicine may increase thoughts of suicide in some children, teenagers, and young adults. Tell your doctor right away if you start to feel more depressed and have thoughts about hurting yourself. Report any unusual thoughts or behaviors that trouble you, especially if they are new or are getting worse. Tell your doctor if you have trouble sleeping, get upset easily, have an unusual increase in energy, or act reckless. Also tell the doctor if you suddenly feel nervous, angry, restless, violent, impulsive, or scared. Let the doctor know if you or anyone in your family has bipolar disorder or depression, or has tried to commit suicide.
  • Call your doctor right away if you have a fever, confusion, mental changes, restlessness, fast heartbeat, muscle spasms, trouble walking, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. This medicine may cause a serious condition, serotonin syndrome, when taken with certain medicines. Your risk may be higher if you also take other medicines that affect serotonin levels in your body.
  • This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy. Avoid driving, using machines, or doing anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • This medicine could raise or lower your blood sugar level.
  • Tell any doctor or dentist who treats you that you are using this medicine. You may need to stop using this medicine several days before you have surgery or medical tests.
  • Do not stop using this medicine suddenly. Your doctor will need to slowly decrease your dose before you stop it completely.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Anger, irritability, panic attacks, trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety, restlessness, fast heartbeat, fever, sweating, muscle spasms, twitching, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seeing or hearing things that are not there
  • Extreme mood swings, or sudden increase in activity, energy, or speech (mania)
  • Fever and sore throat
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or others, violent or impulsive behavior
  • Uneven, fast, or pounding heartbeat
  • Unusual behavior
  • Worsened depression

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Drowsiness or dizziness
  • Dry mouth

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 4/4/2014

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