Compare Tofranil vs. Cymbalta

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

Tofranil
(imipramine hydrochloride)

Cymbalta
(duloxetine)

Improves your mood and stops bedwetting in children. Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride) is one of the first choice medicines used to treat depression, but it can cause weight gain and sleepiness.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 Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Cymbalta
58%
-58% worse vs. Tofranil
49%
-49% worse vs. Tofranil
24%
+24% better vs. Tofranil
496 reviews
Have you used Cymbalta (duloxetine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
TofranilCymbalta

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

More about Tofranil 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
TofranilCymbalta
Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride) is a tricyclic antidepressant. It raises the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, 2 chemicals that are known to regulate mood. It's not known exactly how Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride) treats bedwetting.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
TofranilCymbalta
Prescription onlyPrescription only
Available as
TofranilCymbalta
  • Pill
  • Extended release
Used for
TofranilCymbalta
Risk factors for serious side effects
TofranilCymbalta
  • Under age 24
  • History of heart disease
  • Overactive thyroid
  • High blood pressure
  • History of seizures
Detailed Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride) 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.

Alcohol
TofranilCymbalta
  • Don't drink alcohol while taking Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride).
No alcohol related info.
Food
TofranilCymbalta
No food related info.
  • Take with food to avoid upset stomach.
Kidneys and liver
TofranilCymbalta
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
TofranilCymbalta
No pain related info.
  • Full effects in 8 to 12 weeks for mood, 2 weeks for pain.
Sleep
TofranilCymbalta
  • Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride) can make you feel sleepy, so don't drive or do anything requiring concentration until you know how it affects you.
No sleep related info.
Weight
TofranilCymbalta
  • Compared to other medicines for depression, Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride) can make you more likely to gain weight and have changes in blood sugar. If you have diabetes, your doctor might need to change the doses of your medications to make sure your blood sugar stays controlled. Talk to your doctor to see if you should take another medicine besides Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride).
No weight related info.
Upsides and benefits
TofranilCymbalta
  • Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride) is part of the first choice of medicines used to treat depression.
  • Available in generic.
  • Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride) is usually taken only once a day.
  • Available in 3 different strengths.
  • 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
TofranilCymbalta
  • Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride) can lower your sex drive and cause more weight gain than other similar medicines for depression.
  • You might be more sensitive to the sun and have a higher risk for heat stroke while taking Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride).
  • If you have a history of heart conditions, your symptoms might get worse with Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride). Talk to your doctor to see if Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride) is right for you.
  • 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
TofranilCymbalta
  • You might need to take Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride) for a few weeks before you notice any changes in your mood.
  • Don't drink alcohol while taking Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride).
  • If you miss your bedtime dose, skip it and take your regular dose the next evening. Don't take extra medicine to make up for the missed dose.
  • You might be more sensitive to the sun while taking Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride). Make sure to drink plenty of liquids, wear sunscreen, or cover your skin if you'll be out in the sun.
  • Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride) can make you feel sleepy, so don't drive or do anything requiring concentration until you know how it affects you.
  • Don't stop taking Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride) 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 TofranilSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Tofranil (imipramine hydrochloride)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about CymbaltaSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Cymbalta (duloxetine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it