Anxiety and depressive disorders are common mental health issues in the United States, and there are several pharmaceutical and therapeutic approaches to treating these disorders. Mirtazapine is one medication that emerged in the 1980s and was approved for use in the U.S. in 1996. Drugs like mirtazapine and other similar drugs aren’t considered to have a high potential for abuse. However, it’s possible to misuse prescriptions that are used to treat anxiety. Learn more about what happens if you misuse or abuse mirtazapine.
What is Mirtazapine?
Mirtazapine, which is sold under the brand name Remeron, is a prescription drug that’s used to treat depression and anxiety. Though it was first synthesized in 1989, it’s still relatively new as a pharmaceutical. Still, it’s been significantly studied in a variety of contexts. It’s primarily used to treat major depressive disorder and other mood disorders, but it may also be used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other anxiety disorders. Studies have found that its effectiveness is comparable to other antidepressants like SSRIs.
There is still research to be done to find out how the drug works in the body. However, it appears to slow down the central nervous system, which is why it’s also been considered as an insomnia medication. It’s also being studied as a possible medication to use to treat substance use disorders and withdrawal symptoms.
Does Mirtazapine Have High Abuse Potential?
Drugs that slow down the nervous system can sometimes be used recreationally to achieve an alcohol-like, relaxing high. Benzodiazepines, which are sometimes used to treat anxiety disorder, are commonly abused and misused. However, benzodiazepines work in the brain in the same way alcohol does, which is different from mirtazapine. But can mirtazapine cause similar intoxication?
Mirtazapine and other antidepressants like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are considered to have a lower likelihood of abuse than benzodiazepines. Benzos are scheduled drugs, which means they come with more federal regulation than other substances because of their abuse potential. Mirtazapine isn’t considered a controlled substance, although it does require a prescription to obtain.
Mirtazapine is considered to be non-addictive, but it can cause mood-boosting effects, which some people might try to achieve recreationally. But other prescriptions, like benzos, barbiturates, and opioids, are more likely to be abused.
What Happens if You Abuse Mirtazapine?
Mirtazapine abuse may cause some mood-boosting effects, but it’s also likely to increase your risk of experiencing uncomfortable side effects. Mirtazapine can cause drowsiness, weight gain, weakness, confusion, and dry mouth. It may also cause an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or actions, like other SSRIs. The drug can also cause uncomfortable side effects when you stop using it, like depression, anxiety, vertigo, restlessness, and panic attacks.
When taken as directed, mirtazapine is well-tolerated, which means it isn’t likely to cause significant side effects. However, in high doses, it’s more likely to cause uncomfortable side effects. If you take a very high dose, it can cause an overdose. Compared to other drugs, an overdose is relatively less dangerous. Still, there have been a few reported fatalities associated with mirtazapine overdoses.