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October 1978

Withdrawal From Long-term High-Dose Desipramine Therapy: Clinical and Biological Changes

Author Affiliations

From the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, Toronto. Dr Brown is now with McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1978;35(10):1261-1264. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1978.01770340111012

• Investigation was undertaken on a patient whose long-term intake of desipramine hydrochloride was amongst the highest reported. Desipramine treatment instituted at a daily dosage of 75 mg for depressive equivalents of head, chest, and abdominal pain was increased to 1,000 mg daily over a 12-year interval with minimal side effects. Plasma desipramine level dropped immediately on withdrawal, and urinary metabolite values dropped over the subsequent five days. The electrocardiographic abnormalities of first-degree atrioventricular block and incomplete left bundle branch block rapidly disappeared on cessation of medication. Electroencephalographic changes with symmetrical generalized irregular 5- to 7-cps theta activity and 18- to 28-cps beta activity also improved. Longitudinal polygraphic sleep studies showed prolonged rapid eye movement rebound and increased delta sleep coincident with withdrawal. It took ten days after cessation of desipramine for urinary 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol concentration to increase substantially. Although catecholamines are involved in growth hormone (GH) and cortisol regulation, no abnormalities were found in GH or cortisol levels.