My watch list  


Systematic (IUPAC) name
CAS number 50-49-7
ATC code N06AA02
PubChem 3696
DrugBank APRD00672
Chemical data
Formula C19H24N2 
Mol. mass 280.407
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability  ?
Metabolism Hepatic
Main active metabolite desipramine
Half life 11-25 hours
Excretion Renal
Therapeutic considerations
Pregnancy cat.

Known risk of damage to fetus.

Legal status

Prescription only

Routes Oral

Imipramine (sold as Antideprin®, Deprenil, Deprimin, Deprinol, Depsonil, Dynaprin, Eupramin, Imipramil, Irmin, Janimine®, Melipramin, Surplix, Tofranil®) is an antidepressant medication, a tricyclic antidepressant of the dibenzazepine group. Imipramine is mainly used in the treatment of clinical depression and enuresis.



Imipramine was, in the late 1950s, the first tricyclic antidepressant to be developed (by Ciba-Geigy). Initially, it was tried against psychotic disorders (e.g. schizophrenia), but proved insufficient. Imipramine is in fact well known to induce and exacerbate psychosis. During the clinical studies its antidepressant qualities were unsurpassed by other antidepressants. To this day, Imipramine is often considered the "Gold Standard" antidepressant as its ability to lift even the most severe depressive episodes is unsurpassed. Not surprisingly, Imipramine also is known to cause an exceptionally high rate of manic and hypomanic reactions. It is in fact estimated that up to 25% of patients maintained on Imipramine will switch into mania or hypomania. ( Such powerful antidepressant properties have made it favorable in the treatment of TRD, or "Treatment Resistant Depression" and many sufferers have seen positive results from Imipramine.

At the advent of SSRIs, its sometimes intolerable side effect profile became evident. Subsequently, it was extensively used as a standard antidepressant and later served as a prototypical drug for the development of the later released tricyclics. It is not as commonly used today, but is sometimes used to treat major depression as a second-line treatment. It has also seen limited use in the treatment of migraines, ADD and post concussive syndrome. Imipramine has additional indications for the treatment of panic attacks, chronic pain, and Kleine-Levin syndrome. In pediatric patients it is relatively frequently used to treat pavor nocturnus and nocturnal enuresis.

Mechanism of action

Imipramine, a tertiary amine, inhibits the reuptake of serotonin more than most secondary amine tricyclics, as it blocks the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine almost equally (a little more norepinephrine anyway). Imiparmine also has activity at delta opiate receptors as well as substantial activity at D1 and D2 dopamine receptors [1] Enhancement of brain dopamine activity has been implicated in Imipramine's ability to stimulate motor activity and prolong time spent in escape in mice, and opiate activity is thought to contribute to it analgesic effect. It is an antagonist at histamine H1 and alpha-1-adrenoceptors. In addition, the drug is an antagonist at M2 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (see external links).


Imipramine is converted to desipramine, another TCA, in the body.

Contraindications and precautions

See Tricyclic antidepressants

Imipramine should not be given in conjunction with, or within 14 days of treatment with a MAO inhibitor. Combined therapy of this type could lead to the appearance of serious interactions such as hypertensive crises, hyperactivity, hyperpyrexia, spasticity, severe convulsions or coma and death may occur.

Imipramine is contraindicated in patients with existing severe hepatic or renal damage, and those with a history of blood dyscrasias.

Imipramine is contraindicated in patients who have shown hypersensitivity to the drug or hypersensitivity to tricyclic antidepressants belonging to the dibenzazepine group.

Imipramine is contraindicated for use during the acute recovery phase following a myocardial infarction.

It should not be used in patients with convulsive disorders or glaucoma.


Side effects

After taking the medicine this drug may cause some side effects in some patients, particularly with the first few doses.

Allergic effects:

Isolated cases of pneumonitis (fever, chills, cough, difficulty with breathing, unusual weight loss, feeling sick) have been reported. A puffy, swollen face, tongue or body has been reported. These reactions may be severe, causing shortness of breath, swelling, shock and collapse. If you develop any allergic symptoms, stop taking the medicine and contact your doctor immediately.

Effects on the blood:

Isolated changes in blood cells. If you notice that you are bruising more frequently or have more nosebleeds or infections you should consult your doctor.

Effects on the heart:

Arrhythmias: Irregular heart rhythyms.

Effects on the endocrine system and metabolism:

Weight gain has been reported frequently. Disturbances in sexual function have been reported occasionally. Isolated cases of enlarged mammary glands, production or over-production of breast milk, increased or decreased blood sugar levels and weight loss have been reported. Low levels of salt in the blood have been reported, usually in elderly patients, which can be identified by a blood test.

Effects on the brain and central nervous system:

Tremor has been reported frequently. Headache, confusion, orthostatic hypotension (resulting in dizziness upon standing), numbness/tingling, agitation, anxiety, restlessness, mood swings, exaggerated behaviour, delusions and hallucinations have been reported occasionally and are more common in the elderly or in patients on high doses. Aggressiveness, weakness, lack of co-ordination, sudden muscle spasms, difficulty speaking have been reported in isolated cases.

Imipramine also enhances the CNS effects of both stimulants and alcohol, and blocks the parasympathomimetic effects of stimulants while enhancing the cortical excitation. This can be dangerous in some cases and result in seizures and coma.

Effects on the ears:

Ringing or buzzing in the ears have been reported.

Effects on the stomach and intestines:

Feeling or being sick and loss of appetite have been reported occasionally. Isolated cases of tongue lesions and inflammation of the mucus membranes in the mouth have been reported.

Effects on the liver:

Changes in liver function have been reported occasionally. This would be identified by a blood test. Hepatitis and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and/or whites of the eyes) have been reported in isolated cases.

Effects on the skin:

Allergic reactions such as an itchy skin rash have been reported occasionally. Isolated cases of swelling, sensitivity to the sun or sun lamps, hair loss, small purple red spots and itching have been reported.


If the medicine is stopped too quickly, there is the possibility the user may suffer from feeling or being sick, stomach pains, diarrhea, headache, sleeplessness, nervousness, anxiety, irritability and increased sweating.


  • Hospitalized patients: starting with 3 time 25 mg, increasing to 200 mg. Up to 300 mg may be given in resistant cases. After remission dose is often reduced to 50–100 mg daily.
  • Ambulatory patients: starting with 25 to 75 mg daily, increasing up to a maximum of 200 mg daily, after remission dose is often reduced to 50–100 mg daily.
  • Pediatric patients: starting with 10 mg daily the dose is adjusted according to the severity of the symptoms to be treated, the side-effects encountered and the weight of the patient.


The symptoms and the treatment of an overdose are largely the same as for the other tricyclic antidepressants. Cardinal symptoms are cardiac (tachycardia, widened QRS complex) and neurological disturbances. Any ingestion by children should be considered as serious and potentially fatal.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Imipramine". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE