There are a variety of medical treatments for mental health disorders like anxiety and panic disorders. One relatively new treatment option is a drug called mirtazapine, a drug that’s been used for less than 30 years in the U.S. Antidepressants and antianxiety drugs aren’t at the top of the list of drugs with high abuse potential, but they can be misused. What happens if you use mirtazapine recreationally? Learn more about mirtazapine abuse and misuse.
What is Mirtazapine?
Mirtazapine is a prescription medication that’s used as an antidepressant, and it’s used to treat anxiety disorders. It’s a relatively new prescription drug, which was first synthesized in 1989 and later approved for use in the United States in 1996. As a young medication, researchers are still learning about how it works in the body.
It’s sometimes called a serotonergic drug, which means it interacts with the chemical messenger serotonin. However, a review in 2006 found that there was very little evidence that the drug has clear serotonergic effects in humans. However, it does seem to act as a histamine receptor antagonist. That means it binds to histamine receptors and slows or stops activity. Histamine receptor agonists are usually used in allergy medications, but they can also cause sedation or drowsiness.
Mirtazapine seems to be able to slow down the nervous system through this and other actions, which is useful in treating disorders related to overexcitement in the nervous system like insomnia and anxiety.
Does Mirtazapine Have High Abuse Potential?
Anxiety is often treated with other medications like benzodiazepines and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications are sometimes abused, especially benzodiazepines. Drugs that facilitate sedation may sometimes be abused for euphoric effects, similar to those of alcohol. Can mirtazapine cause similar effects, and are people likely to abuse it?
Compared to benzodiazepines, both mirtazapine and SSRIs have lower likelihoods of encouraging abuse and substance use disorders. The government regulates benzos a bit more strictly. Most benzo prescriptions are classified as Schedule IV drugs, which means they are considered to have accepted medical uses and a low risk for abuse, but they can cause limited psychological and physical dependence if abused.
SSRIs and mirtazapine are classified as Rx-only, which means they aren’t considered a scheduled controlled substance, but they do require a prescription to buy and use. Mirtazapine is considered nonaddictive, but it can sometimes be abused to achieve mood-boosting effects.
However, other medications are more likely candidates for abuse. Benzos, barbiturates, and opioids can cause more pronounced intoxicating effects than mirtazapine.
What Happens if you Abuse Mirtazapine?
Mirtazapine abuse may lead to relaxing effects that can produce mild euphoria, but it’s also likely to cause some uncomfortable side effects. Mirtazapine is more likely to cause sleepiness or drowsiness than other antidepressants, and abuse may just lead to fatigue.
It has also shown to cause weight gain through increased appetite. Other common symptoms include weakness, confusion, and dizziness. Mirtazapine is well-tolerated, even compared to other antidepressants. However, abuse and misuse are more likely to cause adverse effects.