There are various medical treatments available for common mental health conditions like panic disorders and anxiety. A newer option, however, is a drug known by the name mirtazapine – the medication has been used in the United States for less than 30 years. Anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants are not on the top of the list of medicines containing a high abuse potential, but there is a chance of misuse. You may wonder what could happen if you misuse mirtazapine? Learn more about its abuse potential and misuse.
What is Mirtazapine?
Mirtazapine is not as common as other drugs you may have heard of, and it’s a prescription medication used for its antidepressant properties. The medicine is also useful in treating anxiety. It is a newer drug that was synthesized in 1989 and approved in 1996. As a more modern medication, researchers are still discovering how it reacts in our bodies.
Mirtazapine is known as a serotonergic drug, which means that it interacts with serotonin. A review in 2006, however, found little evidence to support that it has an apparent serotonergic effect in humans. It does act as a histamine receptor antagonist, and it binds to histamine receptors that slows or stops the activity. Histamine receptor agonists are typically used in allergy medications, but can also cause drowsiness or sedation.
Mirtazapine can slow down our nervous system through this and by other actions, which makes it useful in treating disorders that relate to overexcitement in our nervous system, such as anxiety and insomnia.
Does Mirtazapine Have High Abuse Potential?
Anxiety is routinely treated with medications like benzodiazepines and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
The drugs are abused in some cases, especially benzodiazepines. Drugs that cause sedation are commonly abused for their euphoric effects, and benzodiazepines cause similar symptoms to alcohol, which makes them desirable. Does mirtazapine cause these effects that make people likely to misuse it?
When you compare SSRIs to benzodiazepines, there is a much lower chance of someone developing a substance use disorder. The government regulates benzodiazepines more strictly, as they are Schedule IV drugs, which means there is an accepted medical use and low risk of abuse.
Benzo drugs can still cause limited physical and psychological dependence if they are abused. SSRI drugs like mirtazapine are RX-only, which means they aren’t a controlled substance but do require a prescription to obtain and use.
Mirtazapine is seen as nonaddictive, but there are situations where someone may abuse the mediation to achieve mind-boosting effects.
Other medications, however, are more likely candidates when it comes to abuse. Barbiturates, benzos, and opioids may cause more pronounced intoxicating effects than drugs like mirtazapine.
What Happens if you Abuse Mirtazapine?
Abusing mirtazapine could lead to relaxing effects that produce mild euphoria, but it can also cause uncomfortable side effects. You are more likely to experience sleepiness and drowsiness from the drug than you would from other antidepressants, and abuse could just lead to fatigue.
Mirtazapine has also been shown to cause weight gain due to an increase in appetite. Other common symptoms include confusion, weakness, and dizziness. Although mirtazapine is a well-tolerated drug, abusing the medication is likely to cause adverse side effects, particularly if you have a pre-existing condition or are pregnant.