It is primarily used for the treatment of depression. It may also be useful to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Evidence of benefit is only in the short term and with concerns of side effects its overall usefulness is not clear. Desipramine at very low doses is also used to help reduce the pain associated with functional dyspepsia.
It is used effectively in the treatment of post herpetic neuralgia, a sequelae to Herpes Zoster infections.
It has also been tried, albeit with little evidence of efficacy, in the treatment of cocaine dependence. Evidence for usefulness in neuropathic pain is also poor.
Desipramine is particularly toxic in cases of overdose, compared to other antidepressants. Any overdose or suspected overdose of desipramine is considered to be a medical emergency and can result in death without prompt medical intervention.
^"Desipramine Hydrochloride". Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference. London, UK: Pharmaceutical Press. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
^van Schaik, N; Graf, U (May 1991). "Genotoxicity evaluation of five tricyclic antidepressants in the wing somatic mutation and recombination test in Drosophila melanogaster.". Mutation Research. 260 (1): 99–104. doi:10.1016/0165-1218(91)90085-Z. PMID1902910.