Mirtazapine comes from a group of medications known as tetracyclic antidepressants, and these medications are used to balance the chemical messengers or neurotransmitters in our brain that regulate mood. Healthcare professionals primarily prescribe the drug to treat depression.
Mirtazapine was initially known as Org 3770, and it was first synthesized in The Netherlands in 1987, but not introduced to the United States until 1996. The drug possesses a unique dual mode of action, and it works as a noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant. It provides a rapid improvement in a person’s depression, with minimal serotonin-related adverse effects.
The drug is similar to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) but provides a faster onset of action. Some SSRI drugs will take weeks before they provide relief from depression, while Mirtazapine will work faster to treat the symptoms. The advantages of a quick onset of effects are favorable safety has resulted in the frequent use of the drug in psychiatric patients with comorbid medical issues.
As an antidepressant, the medication has proven to be equally as effective as the tricyclic antidepressants with severe depression. Although the drug has been proven highly useful in treating depression, can it help with anxiety? Due to its relatively quick onset, it would be more valuable than treating anxiety with benzodiazepines due to the fact it’s less addictive. Let’s take a more in-depth look.
How to Use Mirtazapine
Mirtazapine is prescribed as an oral tablet or dissolvable tablet, and the dosage for both types is the same. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using 15 milligrams (mg) a day to start, and that you should use it in the evening before going to bed.
The most effective dosage is between 15 mg and 45 mg per day. If a doctor approves it, you may increase the amount over a one to two week period. Some doctors may suggest you split the dose in two and take one-half twice daily.
Can You Use Mirtazapine for Anxiety?
Currently, Mirtazapine is approved for treating major depressive disorders, but the unique dual mechanism of action has led many to wonder about potential alternative uses.
Mirtazapine was found to perform better than placebos at treating generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, which are debilitating disorders causing an individual to lose their quality of life.
While more studies are needed to determine if the medication is useful, initial results show that individuals saw a significant reduction in their symptoms of anxiety. These results are promising for less-addictive alternatives when it comes to treating anxiety.
These small 6-8 week studies were used to assess outcomes, but much more extensive information is needed before providing definitive answers.
Will Mirtazapine be Used for Anxiety?
While it’s still too early to provide these answers, the initial results are promising. Those struggling with anxiety should continue to ask their doctor for alternative therapies for treating their anxiety disorder and only use potent benzodiazepine medications as a last resort.