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Tofranil (Imipramine)

Tofranil, or imipramine, is used to control depression in adults, young adults, and teens. Tofranil is a tricyclic antidepressant and can also be used to help prevent or control bedwetting in children, panic attacks, or eating disorders.


Tofranil comes in tablet or capsule that is taken one or more times per day when used for depression. A person may start taking a small dose of the medication and then gradually increase their daily dose over time; a doctor can help their patients find the correct dose of this medication. Children being treated for bedwetting may be prescribed this drug and instructed to take their prescription about an hour before bedtime each evening. It may take several weeks before the full effects of the drug are realized; most users report improvement within three weeks of starting this medication.

Important Information Before Use

Your doctor can help you decide if the benefit of taking Tofranil outweighs the risk of using it. Before taking this medication, talk with your doctor if:

  • You are under the age of twenty-four; this medication may increase your risk of suicide.
  • You have ever received electroshock therapy.
  • You have or have ever had glaucoma, an enlarged prostate, diabetes, an overactive thyroid, or any type of liver, kidney, or heart disease.
  • You have had a heart attack
  • You have experienced serious reactions to other similar medications.
  • You have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) medication recently; do not take this medication within two weeks of taking an MAOI.

Tofranil may interact with other medications or supplements, including MAOIs, medications for motion sickness, Parkinson's disease medications, anticoagulants, antihistamines, antidepressants, antacids, antifungals, sleeping pills, antipsychotics, high blood pressure medications, and more. If you are taking other prescription drugs or vitamins, you should ask your doctor or pharmacist about any potential interactions that may occur with this drug.

Important Information During Use

  • Tofranil can cause problems in newborns if taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. You should talk to your doctor about alternative treatments for depression if you are pregnant or become pregnant while taking Tofranil.
  • Tofranil can make you very drowsy. Using alcohol can worsen this side effect. Do not drive or work with heavy machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
  • If you are having any type of surgery, including oral or dental surgery, then you should tell your doctor or anesthesiologist that you take Tofranil.
  • Avoid cigarettes and tobacco products when you take Tofranil; these items could interfere with your medication.
  • You may become more sensitive to sunlight when you take this medication. Avoid prolonged sun exposure when taking Tofranil.
  • You should only take the amount of Tofranil that has been prescribed by your doctor. Taking too much of this medication can be fatal. Signs of overdose include vomiting, hallucinations, extreme drowsiness, uneven heartbeat, coma, or loss of consciousness.

Side Effects

If you experience serious or severe side effects from taking Tofranil, contact your doctor right away. Antidepressants like Tofranil may cause an increase in suicidal behavior or thoughts in children, teens, or young adults under the age of twenty-four. Other serious side effects may include:

  • Irregular, pounding, or fast heartbeat
  • Unusual, uncontrollable shaking or tremors
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Rash
  • Speech difficulties
  • Spasms of neck, back, or jaw
  • Slow or shuffling walk
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Yellowed eyes or skin

Less serious side effects may include:

  • Drowsiness, dizziness, tiredness, or weakness
  • Anxiety or excitement
  • Numbness or tingling in feet or hands
  • Dry mouth
  • Weight gain or increase in appetite
  • Nausea or constipation
  • Difficult or frequent urination
  • Nightmares
  • Sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in sex drive or ability


You should not stop taking Tofranil abruptly, and do not reduce or discontinue this medication on your own. Work with your doctor to taper off of this medication slowly over time. Doing so will help reduce Tofranil withdrawal symptoms. Possible symptoms of withdrawal can include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Feeling generally unwell


  1. Tofranil. (2014, August 25). Retrieved from http://www.drugs.com/mtm/tofranil.html


Last Update: 12-17-2014


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