If you are dealing with a substance use disorder or other mental health challenge, your doctor may mention desipramine at some point. This medication can have some very helpful effects for those working to get sober. Before you decide to start taking desipramine, it is a good idea to learn a little about what it is and how it affects you.
What Is Desipramine?
Desipramine is a medication that can be used to treat depression, addiction, and other various conditions. It is part of a class of medications called tricyclic antidepressants. Desipramine is known to have antidepressant, antihistamine, anticholinergic, and serotonin reuptake inhibitory effects. It is marketed under several brand names, including Norpramin, Nebril, and Pertofrane.
Desipramine is a prescription drug. It is only available to patients with a prescription from their doctor, and you should only take the recommended dosage. The majority of desipramine is sold as an oral medication, but in some places, it may be available as an intramuscular injection.
What Are Some Conditions Treated With Desipramine?
Desipramine is first and foremost an antidepressant. It has been shown to help with a variety of depression-related symptoms, including insomnia, apathy, and lack of appetite. Since it is very common for depression to co-occur alongside addiction, the antidepressant effects of desipramine are very important. This drug can help to treat chronic depression, so people are less tempted to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.
Desipramine is often prescribed for patients dealing with addiction and depression simultaneously. However, it may have some special benefits beyond just reducing the depression symptoms that encourage drug use. Some research indicates that desipramine may be particularly effective for patients with cocaine use disorders. Because of the way the drug affects the brain, it may provide some help with cocaine cravings and withdrawals.
In addition to depression and addiction, desipramine also helps with a variety of other conditions. It can be used to help with bulimia nervosa, irritable bowel syndrome, overactive bladder, and chronic pain. Studies have also found it can assist with managing ADHD. If you happen to have one of these conditions alongside desipramine, the drug may be particularly helpful.
The History of Desipramine
Desipramine was first developed in the early 1960s as part of a line of experimental antidepressants. It was originally derived from imipramine, the very first tricyclic antidepressant to be produced. In 1964, desipramine was officially approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression.
For the next few decades, it remained one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. Once selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors were developed, desipramine was no longer the recommended drug of choice for treating depression. Though it might not be quite as effective as SSRIs, desipramine remains in use because it is less likely to cause fatigue as a side effect.
Over the years, doctors found that desipramine could do more than just assist with depression. As they noticed its many effects in patients, desipramine started being prescribed off-label. In modern times, it is used for all sorts of other purposes.
How Does Desipramine Work?
Desipramine mostly works by affecting the way the brain handles certain chemicals. When a person takes desipramine, the activity of norepinephrine is increased, and serotonin is blocked. This essentially means that these neurochemicals stay around in the brain for longer periods of time instead of being quickly processed.
Having higher levels of no repienphrine and serotonin can be very useful for those with depression or addiction. These conditions can lower the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine that the body naturally produces. Therefore, desipramine can help get neurotransmitter levels back to stable amounts.
Norepinephrine and serotonin have many functions throughout the body, which is why desipramine can do everything from fighting depression to reducing how often a person has to urinate. Norepinephrine is mostly used to promote alertness and activity, but it also affects digestion. Meanwhile, serotonin primarily boosts a person’s mood, but it also has some effects on memory, learning, and focus. Altogether, this means desipramine’s reuptake inhibitor effect can influence just about every part of the body.
Desipramine Dosage Recommendations
Every person is different, so there is no specific dosage used by patients. Instead, your doctor will need to carefully assess your condition, deciding how much desipramine you should take and how long you should take it for. Depending on your needs, your doctor may suggest anywhere from 25 to 300 milligram doses of desipramine a day.
There are a few different dosage schedules your doctor may recommend. Since some patients feel drowsy after taking it, your doctor may suggest you take your entire dose before bedtime each day. However, if you need a more stable dosage system, your doctor may suggest dividing your medicine into two doses each day.
There are all sorts of factors, including your height, weight, metabolism, and brain chemistry, that affect how much desipramine you should be taking. Your doctor will usually recommend starting at the lowest possible dose and gradually working your way up to a higher dose if needed. When taking desipramine, it is important to never take more than the recommended dose. It is possible to overdose on this medication, and if an overdose goes untreated, it can be life-threatening.
Desipramine Side Effects
Like any other medication, desipramine does come with some potential side effects. The most common side effects are potential constipation, drowsiness, dry mouth, or blurry vision. Sometimes, the medication can also cause nausea, headaches, dizziness, and anxiety. Some less common, but still possible, side effects include:
- Numbness in hands or feet
- Skin rashes
- Weight gain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Breast swelling in both genders
- Irregular menstruation
- Memory problems
- Muscle stiffness
Typically, desipramine side effects get worse as you take more of the medication. If you are suffering from intense side effects, your doctor might suggest you try lowering your dosage before you quit taking it altogether.
Precautions to Be Aware of Before Taking Desipramine
Before taking desipramine, your doctor will need to make sure you are in general good health. Desipramine is not usually recommended if you have diabetes, asthma, glaucoma, heart problems, liver problems, overactive thyroid, or epilepsy. Desipramine is not usually recommended if you have a personal or family history of certain mental health problems like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Another thing to be aware of is that desipramine interacts poorly with certain other medications. It is particularly dangerous to take desipramine alongside monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. If you take an MAO inhibitor, you need to halt use and wait two weeks for it to clear your system before using desipramine. Common types of MAO inhibitors to be aware of include isocarboxazid, phenelzine, selegiline, and tranylcypromine.
Desipramine also reacts very poorly with other medications that affect serotonin levels. It should not be taken alongside buspirone, fentanyl, linezolid, lithium, St. John’s wort, or several other medications. Mixing desipramine with these medications can cause serotonin syndrome to develop. Finally, you need to avoid taking the medication alongside any other central nervous system depressants, including alcohol, antihistamines, sleeping medicines, and cold medicines. Talk to your doctor before taking any other medication alongside desipramine.
Using Desipramine in Addiction Treatment
Ultimately, desipramine is not a magic cure that instantly addresses every part of your addiction. Instead, it plays a supportive role in substance use treatment. The purpose of desipramine is mostly just helping you to get to a healthier mental state where you can focus on your sobriety.
To be effective, desipramine needs to be used alongside a counseling program. While you are on your desipramine dosage schedule, you will also need to make sure you are following your counseling schedule. This may involve a blend of both individual and group therapy.
During these therapy sessions, you will have the opportunity to unpack underlying causes for your addiction, learn healthy ways of dealing with triggers, and find methods for handling cravings. Desipramine does not directly affect these parts of your addiction treatment, but you may find it easier to focus on yourself and prioritize your health.
Desipramine can be used at any stage of addiction treatment. Often, it is prescribed right at the beginning, when you may still be in withdrawal. Desipramine can be very useful for managing the depression and anxiety that often occurs during withdrawal. However, even if you are long finished with withdrawal, you might still benefit from desipramine. At any part of your addiction journey where you need help stabilizing moods and addressing mental health, desipramine may be useful.
Can Desipramine Help You?
There are all sorts of reasons to consider using desipramine. If you are dealing with depression and addiction, the medication does have the potential ability to help with your symptoms. Especially if you are dealing with a cocaine use disorder, desipramine may be able to reduce cravings. In most cases of using desipramine for substance use treatment, it is only prescribed for those who also have depression. However, in some situations involving severe cocaine addiction, desipramine may be helpful for those who are not diagnosed with depression.
Desipramine is recommended on a case-by-case basis, so your doctor will need to assess your situation and see if it is right for you. Generally, doctors prescribe it for patients who are trying to get sober and are still struggling with depression, ADHD, or chronic pain. You may be a good candidate for desipramine if you are in general good health and not taking many other medications.
Explore Your Options at Granite Recovery Center
As one of the leading substance use treatment centers of New England, Granite Recovery Center is happy to help you find the best treatment for your needs. Our treatment centers provide a blend of clinical psychotherapy, medication-assisted treatment, 12-step programs, and other evidence-based treatments. We assist each patient with managing mental health conditions, restoring physical health, and finding better ways of coping with stress.
At Granite Recovery Center, you can choose from a variety of programs. Our team offers full medical detox, intensive outpatient counseling, and residential substance use treatment. Depending on your needs, you can stay at our peaceful countryside location full time, or you can just visit our offices a couple times each week.
Regardless of which program and treatment options you pick, you can be confident that you are getting the best possible care. We prioritize helping our patients get support and encouragement. As we guide you through the challenges of sobriety, you can learn to rebuild your life and find hope again. To get started on the path to recovery, give us a call today.