Headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, nervousness, trouble sleeping, blurred vision, increased appetite, weight gain, constipation and dry mouth may occur. If any of these effects last or get worse, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
To reduce the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position.
To relieve dry mouth, suck on (sugarless) hard candy or ice chips, chew (sugarless) gum, drink water, or use a saliva substitute.
Remember that this medication has been prescribed because your doctor has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: mental/mood changes (such as confusion, hallucinations, memory problems), enlarged/painful breasts, unusual breast milk production, irregular/painful menstrual periods, ringing in the ears, sexual problems (such as decreased sexual ability, changes in desire), shakiness (tremors), numbness/tingling of the hands/feet, pain/redness/swelling of arms or legs, trouble urinating, easy bruising/bleeding, signs of infection (such as sore throat that doesn't go away, fever), severe stomach/abdominal pain, dark urine, yellowing of eyes/skin.
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: chest pain, slow/fast/irregular heartbeat, seizures, fainting, trouble speaking, weakness on one side of the body, eye pain/swelling/redness, widened pupils, vision changes (such as seeing rainbows around lights at night).
This medication may increase serotonin and rarely cause a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity. The risk increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin, so tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take (see Drug Interactions section). Get medical help right away if you develop some of the following symptoms: fast heartbeat, hallucinations, loss of coordination, severe dizziness, severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, twitching muscles, unexplained fever, unusual agitation/restlessness.
This drug may rarely cause a serious nervous system disorder (neuroleptic malignant syndrome). Get medical help right away if you notice any of the following very serious side effects: muscle stiffness, high fever, increased sweating, fast heartbeat, sudden mental/mood changes, signs of kidney problems (such as change in the amount of urine).
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US – Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada – Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
How to use Desipramine HCL
Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start taking desipramine and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually 1 to 3 times daily. The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Your doctor may start you at a low dose and gradually increase your dose. This medication may make you sleepy or wakeful. Depending on how this medication affects you, your doctor may direct you to take the entire dose once daily either in the morning or at bedtime.
Follow your doctor's instructions carefully. Do not take more or less medication or take it more often than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster and your risk of side effects will increase. Use this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, use it at the same time(s) each day.
Keep taking this medication even if you feel well. Do not suddenly stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when the drug is abruptly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased.
This medication does not work right away. It may take 2 to 3 weeks before you experience the full benefits when this medication is used for depression.
Inform your doctor if your condition lasts or gets worse.
Before taking this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to other tricyclic antidepressants (such as imipramine, amitriptyline); or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: breathing problems (such as asthma, chronic bronchitis), personal or family history of glaucoma (angle-closure type), diabetes, eating disorders (such as bulimia), heart problems (such as arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, heart attack), liver problems, kidney problems, personal or family history of other mental/mood conditions (such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia), seizures, overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), trouble urinating (such as due to enlarged prostate), any condition that may increase your risk of seizures (including alcohol/sedative dependency, use of electroconvulsive therapy, brain injury/disease such as stroke), certain types of tumors (such as pheochromocytoma, neuroblastoma).
Desipramine may cause a condition that affects the heart rhythm (QT prolongation). QT prolongation can rarely cause serious (rarely fatal) fast/irregular heartbeat and other symptoms (such as severe dizziness, fainting) that need medical attention right away.
The risk of QT prolongation may be increased if you have certain medical conditions or are taking other drugs that may cause QT prolongation. Before using desipramine, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take and if you have any of the following conditions: certain heart problems (heart failure, slow heartbeat, QT prolongation in the EKG), family history of certain heart problems (QT prolongation in the EKG, sudden cardiac death).
Low levels of potassium or magnesium in the blood may also increase your risk of QT prolongation. This risk may increase if you use certain drugs (such as diuretics/”water pills”) or if you have conditions such as severe sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting. Talk to your doctor about using desipramine safely.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy or blur your vision. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness or clear vision until you can do it safely. Limit alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).
This medication may make you more sensitive to the sun. Limit your time in the sun. Avoid tanning booths and sunlamps. Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors. Tell your doctor right away if you get sunburned or have skin blisters/redness.
If you have diabetes, this drug may make it harder to control your blood sugar. Check your blood sugar regularly as directed and share the results with your doctor. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms such as increased thirst/urination. Your doctor may need to adjust your diabetes medication, exercise program, or diet.
Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially dizziness (more likely when standing up), drowsiness, constipation, trouble urinating, mental/mood changes (such as confusion, agitation) and heart effects such as QT prolongation (see above). Dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion can increase the risk of falling.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Infants born to mothers who have taken similar medications during pregnancy may have symptoms such as trouble urinating, prolonged sleepiness, shaking, and seizures. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Since untreated mental/mood problems (such as depression, panic disorder) can be a serious condition, do not stop taking this medication unless directed by your doctor. If you are planning pregnancy, become pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, immediately discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using this medication during pregnancy.
This drug passes into breast milk and may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Consult your pharmacist or physician.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Some products that may interact with this drug include: disopyramide, certain drugs for high blood pressure (such as clonidine, guanadrel, guanethidine), digoxin, thyroid supplements, valproic acid.
Taking MAO inhibitors with this medication may cause a serious (possibly fatal) drug interaction. Avoid taking MAO inhibitors (isocarboxazid, linezolid, metaxalone, methylene blue, moclobemide, phenelzine, procarbazine, rasagiline, safinamide, selegiline, tranylcypromine) during treatment with this medication. Most MAO inhibitors should also not be taken for two weeks before and after treatment with this medication. Ask your doctor when to start or stop taking this medication.
The risk of serotonin syndrome/toxicity increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin. Examples include street drugs such as MDMA/”ecstasy,” St. John's wort, certain antidepressants (including SSRIs such as fluoxetine/paroxetine, SNRIs such as duloxetine/venlafaxine), among others. The risk of serotonin syndrome/toxicity may be more likely when you start or increase the dose of these drugs.
Other medications can affect the removal of desipramine from your body, which may affect how desipramine works. Examples include barbiturates (such as phenobarbital), cimetidine, haloperidol, certain drugs for heart rhythm (such as flecainide, propafenone), halofantrine, HIV protease inhibitors (such as fosamprenavir), phenothiazines (such as thioridazine), pimozide, certain anti-seizure drugs (such as phenytoin), antidepressants (such as trazodone), among others.
Cigarette smoking decreases blood levels of this medication. Tell your doctor if you smoke or if you have recently stopped smoking.
Many drugs besides desipramine may affect the heart rhythm (QT prolongation in the EKG), including amiodarone, dofetilide, pimozide, procainamide, quinidine, sotalol, sparfloxacin, macrolide antibiotics (such as amoxil, zithromax, flagyl, levofloxacin, ciprofloxacin), among others. Before using desipramine, report all medications you are currently using to your doctor or pharmacist.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other products that cause drowsiness including alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), antihistamines (such as cetirizine, diphenhydramine), drugs for sleep or anxiety (such as alprazolam, diazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants (such as carisoprodol, cyclobenzaprine), and opioid pain relievers (such as codeine, hydrocodone).
Check the labels on all your medicines (such as allergy or cough-and-cold products) because they may contain ingredients that cause drowsiness. Ask your pharmacist about using those products safely.
Desipramine is very similar to imipramine. Do not take medications containing imipramine while using desipramine.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: severe dizziness, fast/irregular heartbeat, fainting, hallucinations, seizures.
Do not share this medication with others.
Lab and/or medical tests (such as blood count, EKG, kidney function) may be done while you are taking this medication. Keep all medical and lab appointments. Consult your doctor for more details.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose. Take your next dose at the regular time. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.