How does imipramine work?

Written by jacquelyn jeanty
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How does imipramine work?


Imipramine is classified as a tricyclic antidepressant used to treat cases of moderate-to-severe depression. Also known as tofranil in the United States, Imipramine works by alleviating symptoms of depression (e.g. sadness, fatigue and despair). It is also used to treat enuresis, symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and chronic pain. Imipramine is a prescription drug that's available in 10-, 25-, and 50-milligram tablets. Sustained-release capsules are also available in 75-,100-,125-, and 150-milligram doses. When first prescribed, the average adult dose starts out at 25-milligrams. This amount is then gradually increased until the right dosage level is found. It typically takes three- to four-weeks for the drug to move through the body's system, so its effects may not be seen until then.


As a member of the tricyclic family of medications, Imipramine is designed to affect certain neurotransmitter processes within the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical secretions that affect overall brain function, and most body processes. Imipramine works to support neurotransmitter processes that are out of balance. The drug specifically targets neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. In the case of depression, there is a deficiency of these chemicals due to an irregular reabsorption process that takes place among the brain cell receptors. Imipramine works to prevent these chemicals from being reabsorbed by nerve cell receptors. A second mechanism at work in depression causes brain cells to be insensitive to glutamate. Glutamate is an amino acid that assists in regulating chemical processes in the brain. Imipramine works to boost this sensitivity and to further enhance neurotransmitter processes.

How does imipramine work?


The effects of imipramine on depression symptoms include improvements in mood, motivation and outlook. In some cases, drowsiness, or sedation may occur as well. For individuals who suffer from anxiety, nervousness or insomnia, imipramine may be prescribed for its sedative qualities as well as its antidepressant effects. Individual body chemistry will determine which dosage is best. Due to the time it takes for the body to adjust to the drug, finding the right dosage may take some time. As with all tricyclic medications, certain side effects are possible when taking imipramine. The most common effects include blurred vision, dry mouth, constipation, weight gain or weight loss, and increased heart rate. The effectiveness of this drug may be hampered when taken with other medications, or adverse effects may occur. Discontinuing imipramine requires a gradual tapering off of the daily dosage amount so the body and brain processes can adjust to the absence of the drug in the system.

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