Generic name: Desipramine hydrochloride.

Other brand names: Pertofrane.

Norpramin is a tricyclic antidepressant. It is thought to relieve depression by increasing the concentration of certain chemicals responsible for brain nerve transmissions. 

Quick Facts About Norpramin


Used to treat depression. Also used to treat bulimia and attention deficit disorders, and to help with cocaine withdrawal.

Norpramin Dosage

Take exactly as prescribed. Do not discontinue if there is not an immediate effect; can take up to 3 weeks to observe any effects of the medication. Stopping medication abruptly may result in nausea, headache, and uneasiness.

  • Usual adult dose: ranges from 100 to 200 milligrams per day taken in 1 dose or divided into smaller doses. Doctor may increase dose up to 300 milligrams per day maximum if needed. Seniors — ranges from 25 to 100 milligrams per day, up to a maximum of 150 milligrams.
  • Usual child dose: adolescents — ranges from 25 to 100 milligrams per day, up to a maximum of 150 milligrams.
  • Missed dose: if taking several doses per day — take as soon as possible, then take remaining doses for the day at evenly spaced intervals. If taking once per day at bedtime — skip missed dose, go back to regular schedule. Do not double doses.

Norpramin Side Effects

Overdose symptoms:

agitation, coma, confusion, delirium, difficult breathing, dilated pupils, extremely low blood pressure, fever, inability to urinate, irregular heart rate, kidney failure, restlessness, rigid muscles, seizures, shock, stupor, vomiting. If you suspect an overdose, immediately seek medical attention.

More common side effects: abdominal cramps; agitation; anxiety; black tongue; black, red, or blue spots on skin; blurred vision; breast development in males; breast enlargement in females; confusion; constipation; delusions; diarrhea; dilated pupils; disorientation; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth; excessive or spontaneous flow of milk; fatigue; fever; flushing; frequent urination or difficulty or delay in urinating; hallucinations; headache; heart attack; heartbeat irregularities; hepatitis; high or low blood pressure; high or low blood sugar; hives; impotence; increased or decreased sex drive; inflammation of the mouth; insomnia; intestinal blockage; lack of coordination; light-headedness (especially when standing up); loss of appetite; loss of hair; mild elation; nausea; nightmares; odd taste in mouth; painful ejaculation; palpitations; purplish spots on skin; rapid heartbeat; restlessness; ringing in ears; seizures; sensitivity to light; skin itching and rash; sore throat; stomach pain; stroke; sweating; swelling due to fluid retention (especially in face or tongue); swelling of testicles; swollen glands; tingling; numbness and pins and needles in hands and feet; tremors; urinating at night; visual problems; vomiting; weakness; weight gain or loss; worsening of psychosis; yellowed skin and eyes.

No known less common or rare Norpramin side effects.


At risk for fatal reaction if taking mao inhibitors such as Nardil or Parnate; do not take Norpramin within 2 weeks of taking any of these medications.

Inform your doctor before combining Norpramin with:

Cimetidine (Tagamet), fluoxetine (Prozac), guanethidine (Ismelin), medications to improve breathing such as Proventil, medications that relax certain muscles such as Bentyl, sedatives such as Valium and Halcion, thyroid medications (Synthroid). Extreme drowsiness may occur if combining Norpramin with other depressants including narcotic painkillers such as Percocet and Demerol, sleeping medications such as Halcion and Nembutal, and tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax.

Alcohol may cause extreme drowsiness. 

Special Cautions

If pregnant or planning to become pregnant, inform your doctor immediately. Not known if Norpramin appears in breast milk.

Seniors are prescribed lower doses.

Not generally prescribed for children younger than adolescent age.

  • May cause dizziness and impair your ability to drive a car or operate machinery. Do not take part in any activity that requires alertness.
  • Inform your doctor before Norpramin therapy if you have: heart or thyroid disease, seizure disorder, history of being unable to urinate, or glaucoma.
  • Alert your doctor before elective surgery that you are taking Norpramin.
  • Should not take if hypersensitive to this medication or if you recendy had a heart attack.
  • Sensitivity to sunlight may be increased. Overexposure may lead to rash, itching, redness, or sunburn.
  • Inform your doctor if you experience fever and sore throat during Norpramin therapy; doctor may perform blood tests.

Note: provides accurate and independent information prescription pills, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have questions about  dosage, or Norpramin side effects, please contact your healthcare provider