Compare desipramine vs. doxepin

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

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Norpramin (desipramine)

Prescription only

doxepin

Prescription only
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.

Treats depression and anxiety.

doxepin can treat depression and anxiety, but it's not a first choice medication because of its many side effects.

Upsides
  • 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.
  • doxepin has been consistently shown to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • doxepin has been used to treat depression for over forty years.
Downsides
  • 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.
  • doxepin can make you very sleepy. Try taking it at bedtime if you need to be alert during the day.
  • You shouldn't drink alcohol with doxepin. It can worsen side effects like drowsiness.
  • You have to take it daily, especially if you are feeling better, for the medicine to do its job.
  • It can have more side effects than other antidepressants, like weight gain and increased appetite, decreased libido, and sleepiness.
  • It's not unusual for people to try different antidepressants until they find one that works for them.
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Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Price
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Reviews
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Side effects
The Norpramin (desipramine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
The doxepin FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • Higher risk of suicide
    • People under age 24
  • Possible bipolar disorder
  • Serotonin syndrome
    • Tricyclic antidepressants
    • Fentanyl
    • Tramadol
    • Buspirone
    • ADHD medicines
    • Triptans
  • Changes to the heartbeat
    • History of heart disease
  • Higher risk for seizures
    • History of seizures
    • History of brain damage or alcohol withdrawal
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
    • Age 24 years or under
  • Unmasking of bipolar disorder
    • Bipolar disorder
  • Serotonin syndrome
    • Taking MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors)
  • Heart problems
    • History of heart disease
    • Adults over 65
    • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Sleepiness
    • Adults 65 years or older
    • Taking other medicines that cause drowsiness (antihistamines, sleep medications, narcotic pain medications)
    • Alcohol
  • Dizziness and falls
    • Age 65 years or older
See more detailed risks and warnings