Desipramine treatment of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and tic disorder or Tourette's syndrome

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1993 Mar;32(2):354-60. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199303000-00017.


Objective: As many as 50% of patients with Tourette's syndrome (TS) also meet diagnostic criteria for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Since antipsychotics are of limited value in controlling the symptoms of ADHD and stimulants can exacerbate tics, alternative treatments are directly needed. The purpose of this study was the examination of the efficacy of desipramine (DMI) in the treatment of pediatric patients with chronic tic disorder (CTD; TS or chronic motor tics) + attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Method: All pediatric patients with the diagnosis of CTD that were treated with DMI were ascertained from retrospective systematic chart reviews of a psychopharmacology clinic and a neurology service specialized in movement disorders.

Results: Of the 33 identified patients, 30 had comorbid CTD + ADHD and three had CTD alone. In all, 82% had significant improvement in CTD symptomatology and 80% significantly improved ADHD symptoms without major adverse effects over an average follow-up period of 16 months.

Conclusions: Although the conclusions from this retrospective report can be seen as preliminary only until replicated in a controlled investigation, the magnitude and persistence of the response is encouraging and suggest a therapeutic role for DMI in the treatment of CTD + ADHD patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Desipramine / adverse effects
  • Desipramine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination / drug effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tourette Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Tourette Syndrome / psychology


  • Desipramine