Compare desipramine vs. Cymbalta

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Norpramin
(desipramine)

Cymbalta
(duloxetine)

Stabilizes your mood. Norpramin (desipramine) is not a first choice for treating depression because of its effects on the heart, but it can be good if other medicines haven't worked.Improves mood and relieves certain kinds of pain. Cymbalta (Duloxetine) is good for treating depression and anxiety, and may help with chronic pain. More likely than other antidepressants to cause problems if you drink or have high blood pressure.
Reviews & ratings
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Have you used Norpramin (desipramine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Cymbalta
58%
-58% worse vs. desipramine
49%
-49% worse vs. desipramine
24%
+24% better vs. desipramine
496 reviews
Have you used Cymbalta (duloxetine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
desipramineCymbalta

The desipramine FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about desipramine side effects »
  • Nausea 15%
  • Headache 2%
  • Dry mouth 8%
  • Somnolencee 7%
  • Fatigue 4%
  • Sleep difficulty 4%
  • Constipation 5%
  • Dizziness 4%
  • Diarrhea 3%
  • Decreased appetite 5%
More Cymbalta side effects »
How it works
desipramineCymbalta
Norpramin (desipramine) is a tricyclic antidepressant. It increases the amount of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain, two chemicals that regulate mood.Cymbalta (Duloxetine) is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressant. It increases serotonin and norepinephrine activity in the brain, which regulates mood.
Type of medication
desipramineCymbalta
Prescription onlyPrescription only
Available as
desipramineCymbalta
  • Pill
  • Extended release
Used for
desipramineCymbalta
Risk factors for serious side effects
desipramineCymbalta
  • People under age 24
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Fentanyl
  • Tramadol
  • Buspirone
Detailed Norpramin (desipramine) risks & warnings »
  • Age 24 years or younger
  • Using other medications that affect serotonin
  • Stopping Cymbalta (Duloxetine) suddenly
  • History of high blood pressure
  • Taking other blood-thinning drugs
Detailed Cymbalta (duloxetine) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

The FDA hasn’t classified this medicine’s effects on unborn babies. Talk with your doctor about this medicine if you’re pregnant or planning on it.

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Food
desipramineCymbalta
No food related info.
  • Take with food to avoid upset stomach.
Kidneys and liver
desipramineCymbalta
No kidneys and liver related info.
  • Not a good option if you're a heavy drinker, or if you have liver or kidney problems.
Pain
desipramineCymbalta
No pain related info.
  • Full effects in 8 to 12 weeks for mood, 2 weeks for pain.
Upsides and benefits
desipramineCymbalta
  • Norpramin (desipramine) is available in generic and in many different strengths, so the dose can be more customized.
  • Norpramin (desipramine) has fewer side effects than similar tricyclic antidepressants.
  • Effective at relieving depression and anxiety symptoms.
  • Lowers relapse rates for depression.
  • Can relieve some types of chronic pain. Might be particularly good at pain relief for people who are also depressed.
  • Six out of ten people who use an antidepressant for the first time find that it works for them.
Downsides and risks
desipramineCymbalta
  • Norpramin (desipramine) isn't recommended if you or your family has heart disease, seizures, or glaucoma.
  • Norpramin (desipramine) isn't a first choice for depression because it has more side effects than other antidepressants.
  • In some people, Norpramin (desipramine) can make you sleepy. In other people, Norpramin (desipramine) can keep you awake.
  • If you have diabetes, Norpramin (desipramine) can make your blood sugar go up.
  • Not recommended in children under 12 years of age.
  • Not a good option if you're a heavy drinker, or if you have liver or kidney problems.
  • Not the best option for people with high blood pressure.
  • Like most antidepressants, can cause higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior for people age 24 and younger.
  • The first antidepressant you try doesn't always work or it can cause side effects you really don't like. You might need to try a few different medications until you find one that works for you.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
desipramineCymbalta
  • Don't drive or do anything requiring concentration until you know how Norpramin (desipramine) affects you since it can make you feel sleepy.
  • Talk to your doctor right away if your mood suddenly darkens and you want to hurt yourself while taking Norpramin (desipramine).
  • If you're being switched to Norpramin (desipramine) from monoamine oxidase inhibitors, you'll need to wait 2 weeks before you can start it.
  • Don't stop taking Norpramin (desipramine) suddenly without talking to your doctor first.
  • Take with food to avoid upset stomach.
  • Full effects in 8 to 12 weeks for mood, 2 weeks for pain.
  • Stop taking slowly to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  • Tell your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or unusual thoughts.
Learn more
More about desipramineSide effectsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Norpramin (desipramine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about CymbaltaSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Cymbalta (duloxetine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it