What Is Desipramine Used For?

How Desipramine Works

Desipramine is a tricyclic antidepressant. Tricyclic antidepressants are an older group of medications that have been used to treat depression for many years. Even though desipramine has been around for a long time, it is not entirely clear how it works. However, it is known that desipramine affects several chemicals in the brain, including serotonin and norepinephrine.

Desipramine Use in Children and Teens

Desipramine is not recommended for use in people under 18 years old, as it has not been thoroughly studied in children or teens. Antidepressants have been shown to increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in short-term research studies involving children and teenagers (see Desipramine and Suicide for more information on the risks of suicide with desipramine). You should talk with your healthcare provider about treatment options for childhood or teen depression.

Off-Label Desipramine Uses

On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend desipramine for treating something other than depression. This is called an "off-label" use. At this time, there are several off-label desipramine uses. Following are some of the conditions that can be treated off-label with
  • Chronic pain: Desipramine works best for chronic pain that is nerve-related, such as nerve pain from having shingles (including postherpetic neuralgia).
  • Anxiety disorder: Many antidepressants (including desipramine) are used to treat anxiety disorders.
  • Bedwetting: Desipramine has been used to help people stop bedwetting.
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Desipramine can be used to treat ADHD, especially if other ADHD medications cause side effects or have not been effective.
  • Fibromyalgia: Desipramine has been used to treat pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia.
  • Migraine headaches: Desipramine can be used on a daily basis to prevent migraine headaches. However, it is not effective at treating a migraine headache once it starts.
  • Bulimia: Desipramine has been found to improve bulimia symptoms, including binge eating and vomiting.
  • Smoking: Desipramine is sometimes used to help people quit smoking.
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