Side effects are a concomitant of almost all therapeutic agents and are also present as part of the pharmacological profile of psychotropic agents. However, the laboratory pharmacological characteristics of agents are a more reliable predictor of side effect profiles than they are of their therapeutic activities. Therefore, it would seem possible to be able to predict with much greater accuracy the clinically significant side effects that may be encountered from the preclinical data. This has been established in the case of trazodone and imipramine. The anticholinergic profile of imipramine was clearly determined in the laboratory and in man it produces a range of activity varying from mild peripheral anticholinergic activity to impairment of various functions involving vision, cardiovascular function and gastrointestinal activity. However, in the geriatric population, because of the vast amount of research implicating cholinergic mechanisms in memory functions and particularly in some aspects of cognitive deficit, it may be predicted that the anticholinergic activity of the tricyclics may present an especially troublesome pattern in a geriatric population that requires antidepressant therapy. These comparative effects between the two agents will be discussed and documented from control study data.

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