Imipramine (Tofranil)

Other name: Tofranil

Imipramine is a drug used to treat depression. In multiple sclerosis, a low dose is sometimes used to treat pain, particularly nerve pain or altered sensations, such as burning feelings, pins and needles or stabbing pains. It can also be used for some mild bladder symptoms such as urinary frequency and incontinence.

How does imipramine work?

Imipramine is one of a class of drugs called tricyclic antidepressants. These change the balance of chemicals in the brain that pass messages between nerves. This alters the way in which the central nervous system reacts to pain. Imipramine also affects the rate at which urine is produced.

How do I take imipramine?

Imipramine is taken by mouth (orally) as tablets. It usually takes around two weeks to have an effect, but it can take longer.

If you want to stop treatment, speak to your doctor about how best to do this, as as you can experience withdrawal symptoms such as feeling sick, stomach pain, diarrhoea, headaches or anxiety, if you stop taking the drug suddenly.

Who can take imipramine?

Imipramine can be taken by most adults, and also by children over the age of six for the relief of night time bedwetting.

It may not be suitable for you if you've had an allergic reaction to imipramine or other medicines in the past. You should also tell your doctor if you have heart disease or recently had a heart attack, have severe liver problems, porphyria, glaucoma, or aren't able to pass urine, before starting treatment.

Imipramine isn't recommended if you're pregnant or breastfeeding as it has been linked to breathing difficulties, changes in blood pressure and spasms in newborn babies exposed to the drug.

What side effects could I get with imipramine?

Side effects include:

  • feeling drowsy
  • dry mouth
  • blurred vision
  • headache
  • increased appetite

Some side effects may ease off over time.

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