What antidepressant medications can help treat urinary incontinence?

An older category of antidepressant drugs known as tricyclic antidepressants can be useful for treating men and women whose primary complaint is that they wake up at night to urinate (a condition called nocturia). Drugs such as amitriptyline and imipramine combine both anticholinergic and alpha-adrenergic agonist actions. Low doses are sometimes prescribed either alone or in combination with anticholinergics to treat overactive bladder (frequent urination and urges to urinate).

Because they can cause drowsiness, these antidepressants can help people sleep through the night without getting up to urinate. Tricyclic antidepressants interact with a number of common medications, so your physician should be aware of all the medications you use (including over-the-counter or alternative remedies) before prescribing them. Antidepressants in the class known as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac, are not effective in treating incontinence.

Duloxetine (Cymbalta) is an antidepressant that inhibits reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine. By altering the concentration of these neurotransmitters, the drug seems to increase the contraction of the urethral sphincter. However, this drug is not Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved for the treatment of incontinence, and it is not covered by most health insurance plans for the treatment of urinary incontinence.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.