Home - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Skip to navigation Skip to content
Treatments > Medications Used In MS

Brand Name Chemical Name

(U.S. and Canada)


Primary Usage in MS

Generic Available
Bladder Dysfunction; Pain Yes (U.S. and Canada)

Imipramine is a tricyclic antidepressant used to treat mental depression. Its primary use in multiple sclerosis is to treat bladder symptoms, including urinary frequency and incontinence. Imipramine is also prescribed occasionally for the management of neurologic pain in MS.

Proper Usage
To lessen stomach upset, take this medication with food, even for a daily bedtime dose, unless your physician has told you to take it on an empty stomach.

Imipramine adds to the effects of alcohol and other central nervous system depressants (e.g., antihistamines, sedatives, tranquilizers, prescription pain medications, seizure medications, muscle relaxants, sleeping medications), possibly causing drowsiness. Be sure that your physician knows if you are taking these or any other medications.

This medication causes dryness of the mouth. Because continuing dryness of the mouth can increase the risk of dental disease, alert your dentist if you are taking imipramine.

Imipramine may cause your skin to be more sensitive to sunlight than it is normally. Even brief exposure to sunlight may cause a skin rash, itching, redness or other discoloration of the skin, or severe sunburn. Stay out of the sun during the midday hours. Wear protective clothing and a sun block that has a skin protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.

This medication may affect blood sugar levels of diabetic individuals. If you notice a change in the results of your blood or urine sugar tests, check with your physician.

Do not stop taking imipramine without consulting your physician. The physician may want you to reduce the amount you are taking gradually in order to reduce the possibility of withdrawal symptoms such as headache, nausea, and/or an overall feeling of discomfort.

Studies of imipramine have not been done in pregnant women. There have been reports of newborns suffering from muscle spasms and heart, breathing, and urinary problems when their mothers had taken tricyclic antidepressants immediately before delivery. Studies in animals have indicated the possibility of unwanted effects in the fetus.

Imipramine passes into breast milk but has not been reported to have any effect on the nursing infant.

Possible Side Effects
Side effects that may go away as your body adjusts to the medication and do not require medical attention unless they continue for more than two weeks or are bothersome: dizziness; drowsiness*; headache; decreased sexual ability*; increased appetite; nausea; unusual tiredness or weakness*; unpleasant taste; diarrhea; heartburn; increased sweating; vomiting. Uncommon side effects that should be reported to your physician as soon as possible: blurred vision*; confusion or delirium; constipation*; difficulty speaking or swallowing; eye pain*; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; hallucinations; loss of balance control*; nervousness or restlessness; problems urinating*; shakiness or trembling; stiffness of arms and legs*.

Rare side effects that should be reported to your physician as soon as possible: anxiety; breast enlargement in males and females; hair loss; inappropriate secretion of milk in females; increased sensitivity to sunlight; irritability; muscle twitching; red or brownish spots on the skin; buzzing or other unexplained sounds in the ears; skin rash; itching; sore throat and fever; swelling of face and tongue; weakness*; yellow skin.

Symptoms of acute overdose: confusion; convulsions; severe drowsiness*; enlarged pupils; unusual heartbeat; fever; hallucinations; restlessness and agitation; shortness of breath; unusual tiredness or weakness*; vomiting.

* Since it may be difficult to distinguish between certain common symptoms of MS and some side effects of imipramine, be sure to consult your health care professional if an abrupt change of this type occurs.

Medication Index

Other Medications Used to Treat Bladder Dysfunction

For Urination Frequency

Other Medications Used to Treat MS-related Pain

About Pain in MS

Pain: The Basic Facts
Types of pain, therapies, self-help, resources, and more.

Read more on bladder dysfunction and learn management strategies to help live comfortably.

Reprinted with permission from Rosalind C. Kalb (ed.), Multiple Sclerosis: The Questions You Have—The Answers You Need (4th ed.). New York: Demos Medical Publishing, 2007.


Last updated September 19, 2007