Mirtazapine: Uses & Side Effects

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson defines mirtazapine from a chemical perspective as well as a clinical perspective. It includes the brand name, major use, and a discussion of some common and important side effects.

What Is Mirtazapine?

As with any other organ of the body, the brain can suffer from disease. So, if we try to treat a painful back with medication, or a cancer by cutting it out, wouldn't we also want to treat the brain if it had some sort of problem?

There are plenty of different drugs that treat brain-related disorders. This lesson will cover one of them called mirtazapine. We'll define it, describe its major uses, and its important side-effects.

Mirtazapine Uses

Mirtazapine is a tetracyclic antidepressant. Sounds really fancy, but let's break down those words. It's an anti-depressant because it is 'anti-', against, depression. It's tetracyclic because its structure is made up (partly) of four, 'tetra-', rings, '-cyclic'. Easy enough now, right?

The chemical structure of mirtazapine includes four rings.

Mirtazapine, also called Remeron (its brand name), is used to treat major depressive disorder. Major depressive disorder is also called clinical depression. Think of this disorder as a severe form of depression. This isn't just a depressed mood as a result of the loss of a job, a loved one, or some other tragic event.

Major Depressive Disorder

What are the possible symptoms?

1. Depressed mood

2. Diminished interest or loss of pleasure in pretty much all activities

3. Serious changes in weight or appetite

4. Problems sleeping

5. Restlessness or, on the flipside, slower than normal behavior

6. Fatigue/little energy

7. A feeling of worthlessness

8. Problems with making decisions, thinking, or concentration

9. Thoughts of suicide/death or an attempt at suicide

In order for someone to be classified as having major depressive disorder, they must meet the following criteria:

  • The person should have at least 5 of the symptoms (1-9)
  • These five or more symptoms should occur during the same two-week span
  • One of these five or more symptoms must be #1 or #2

Mirtazapine Side-Effects

Mirtazapine can have a lot of different side-effects. Examples of common and/or important ones include:

  • Sedation
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation, or limited bowel movements
  • Increased appetite and weight gain in some
  • Decreased appetite in others
  • Fatigue
  • Problems sleeping
  • Dry mouth

If you experience any of the above, a talk with your doctor is in order.

Serious side effects include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin rash
  • Swelling of any part of your body
  • Mood/mental changes, like agitation, confusion, or a lack of care about anything
  • Decreased or increased movement

If you experience any of these please see your doctor immediately.

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