Tofranil and Bedwetting

Tofranil is a brand name for the drug called Imipramine.  It is a tricyclic antidepressant that is generally prescribed to treat depression in adults, and as a temporary means of controlling bedwetting or enuresis.

When Was Tofranil Discovered?

Tofranil, or Imipramine, was developed in the 1950’s by Ciba-Geig and as first used in an attempt to treat psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Unfortunately, it was seen to have little effect on schizophrenic patients, but showed promise as a general antidepressant. When it was being developed, it was observed that people who were bi-polar had some often-times severe reactions to the drug resulting in manic reactions.

Is Tofranil Still Used For Bedwetting?

The use of Tofranil has diminished over the years, but it is still prescribed as an alternative to DDAVP for short-term bedwetting.  While it is unknown how the drug actually works on the bladder, it is thought that it may blcok how a natural hormone called Acetylcholine works on the bladder.

In a 1968 study by PAUL C. LAYBOURNE, Ja., M.D., NEIL E. ROAcH, M.D., BıNo EBBESSON, B.A., and STANLEY EDWARDS, B.A., there was a slight decrease in the number of wet nights using Tofranil than there was with a placebo.  However, there were several inconsistencies in the data, and they reported difficulty in finding an adequate number of participants in the study.

Source: Double-Blind Study of the Use of Imipamine (Tofranil) in Enuresis

Side Effects of Tofranil

There are several mild side-effects for Tofranil and some major ones. All should be reported to your doctor if your child exhibits them:

Mild Side-Effects

  • nausea
  • drowsiness
  • weakness or tiredness
  • excitement or anxiety
  • nightmares
  • dry mouth
  • skin more sensitive to sunlight than usual
  • changes in appetite or weight
  • constipation
  • difficulty urinating
  • frequent urination
  • blurred vision
  • changes in sex drive or ability
  • excessive sweating

Severe Side Effects

  • jaw, neck, and back muscle spasms
  • slow or difficult speech
  • shuffling walk
  • uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
  • fever, sore throat, or other signs of infection
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • severe rash
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • irregular heartbeat

The use of DDAVP has become more common than Tofranil, but it is still prescribed.  The use of drugs to control bedwetting is always a temporary solution and the decision to use them should not be done lightly.  A treatment program consisting of an alarm system is highly recommended over the casual use of Tofranil.