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The active ingredient opipramol belongs to the tricyclic antidepressants, but differs significantly from them in its mechanism of action. It is one of the most frequently prescribed substances within this group. Opipramol was introduced by Novartis in Switzerland in 1961 and is now included in numerous medicines. Here you can read everything you need to know about the active ingredient Opipramol, its effects and side effects.

This is how opipramol works

Opipramol has an anxiolytic and slightly mood-enhancing effect. In contrast to conventional antidepressants, this effect is not based on the inhibition of the re-uptake of messenger substances in the brain (such as serotonin or norepinephrine). Instead, a strong binding to certain binding sites in the brain (sigma-1 receptors) could be demonstrated. However, the effects of opipramol have not yet been fully clarified.

The occupation of further binding sites in various regions of the central nervous system also leads to a number of typical side effects. Opipramol, for example, has a very strong calming (sedating) effect, especially at the beginning of treatment.

The active ingredient reaches its maximum concentration in the blood about three hours after ingestion. Most of it is metabolized in the liver and half of it is excreted after six to nine hours, with excretion mainly via the kidneys.

When is opipramol used?

The active ingredient opipramol is approved in Germany for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorders and so-called somatoform disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent fear that is not related to a specific situation or object. Somatoform disorders are physical complaints for which no organic cause can be found.

Outside of these two areas of application approved by the drug authorities, the active ingredient is also used to treat other mental illnesses (off-label use).

The duration of treatment depends on the symptoms and is determined by the attending physician. In general, an average treatment duration of one to two months is recommended, but this can vary greatly from person to person. Very often the patients also receive psychotherapy

This is how opipramol is used

The most common form of Opipramol is tablets. But there are also dragees (coated tablets) and drops with opipramol. Dosage and frequency of intake are determined by the doctor. Usually, however, 50 to 100 milligrams are taken one to three times a day with maximum daily doses of 50 to 300 milligrams. The dose to be taken in the evening is often higher than during the day because of the initially very pronounced side effects (opipramol leads, among other things, to drowsiness).

Like some other psychotropic drugs, Opipramol must be taken regularly for at least two weeks before it can be said whether the active ingredient is actually working as desired.

Stop taking opipramol

If the attending physician wants to discontinue Opipramol, he will gradually reduce the dose - doctors refer to this as "tapering off". Abrupt discontinuation of therapy can lead to undesirable withdrawal symptoms.

What are the side effects of Opipramol?

Side effects such as tiredness, dry mouth and low blood pressure occur frequently (i.e. in every tenth to one hundredth patient) when starting treatment with opipramol.

Side effects typical of psychotropic drugs with opipramol (weight gain, increase in liver enzyme levels, skin reactions) only occur occasionally, i.e. in every hundredth to one thousandth person treated.

What should be considered when taking opipramol?

Contraindications and Precautions

Experience in treating children with opipramol is limited; a dose recommendation is made for children aged six and over. If there are no previous illnesses such as liver, kidney or heart disease, Opipramol can also be used in older patients.

Opipramol should not be used during pregnancy due to lack of data. If it is absolutely necessary during breastfeeding, breastfeeding must be stopped beforehand, as the active ingredient passes into breast milk.

Opipramol should only be used with caution in:

Interactions with other drugs

Therapy with opipramol does not generally exclude additional treatment with other psychotropic drugs. Additional administration of central depressant drugs (sedatives, sleeping pills) or drugs that increase the serotonin level (such as antidepressants such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can lead to a mutual reinforcement of the effects. Antidepressants from the group of MAO inhibitors must not be used at the same time.

Drugs that affect the heart rhythm (beta blockers, antihistamines, certain antibiotics, antimalarials) should only be given during treatment with opipramol if absolutely necessary.

Opipramol and alcohol

One of the most prominent side effects is the central depressant effects of opipramol. Alcohol intensifies this: even small amounts can cause drowsiness and dizziness. Therefore, alcohol consumption should be avoided during treatment.

How to get medicines with opipramol

The active ingredient opipramol, as a centrally active substance, is only available in pharmacies in any dosage form and dosage.

More interesting information

The original classification of opipramol as a tricyclic antidepressant is increasingly being abandoned and more and more people are talking about a mood-lifting anxiety reliever. With the development of more selective antidepressants for the treatment of depression, opipramol is increasingly used only for generalized anxiety disorders and similar complaints.

The active ingredient Opipramol is mainly used in Germany and some other European and African countries. The active ingredient is not approved in the USA.

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