Understanding Remeron (Mirtazapine)
Remeron is the brand-name for Mirtazapine, a prescription antidepressant that belongs to a class of drugs called tetracyclic antidepressants (TeCAs). Remeron is mainly used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD), but is occasionally prescribed to treat other mental health issues such as generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety. The drug works by altering the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and restoring the natural balance of chemicals in the central nervous system. Patients taking the medication typically do so over a period of 40 weeks. The recommended starting dose for Remeron tablets is 15 mg/day, administered in a single dose, preferably in the evening prior to sleep.
Remeron Effects and Abuse
Remeron can improve mood, feelings of well-being, sleep, and appetite in consumers while also decreasing nervousness. In addition to these benefits, the medication can produce a variety of negative and potentially harmful effects as well. These side effects range from mild to severe and can include any of the following:
- Weight gain
- Abdominal pain
- Body aches
- Trouble concentrating
- Strange dreams
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Other serious side effects such as suicide risk, behavioral changes, and an increase in depression have been documented while taking Remeron. Both adult and pediatric patients with major depressive disorder may experience a worsening of their depression and/or the emergence of suicide ideation during the early phases of treatment. Additionally, reports of increased anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, irritability, and hostility have been documented as well during the course of treatment. In rare cases, some individuals may develop a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome. Remeron increases serotonin, and if too high of a dose is taken or if the medicine is mixed with other drugs that increase serotonin, the disorder can manifest.
The risk of experiencing these negative side effects is also increased when the drug is abused. Drug abuse constitutes any situation in which the medication is used either without a prescription or not as explicitly prescribed, such as taking higher dosages or mixing the drug with alcohol. Although Remeron doesn’t produce a euphoric high like the majority of other drugs, people still misuse it due to the calming and mood-boosting effects. Many individuals will take more of the drug than prescribed to feel the effects faster or use it to counteract the effects of stimulant drugs, such as cocaine. Diverted use such as this increases the risk of serious complications such as abdominal cramping, convulsions, and cognitive function. Remeron should also never be taken with other antidepressants, specifically monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), as the two increase the sedative effects of the other and significantly raise the risk of adverse reactions.
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Signs of Remeron Addiction
Like the majority of antidepressants, Remeron is generally considered to be non-addictive; however, the drug can cause physical dependence. Those that try to reduce their dose or stop taking Remeron altogether will start to experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which can cause some people to keep taking the drug despite wanting to quit. Withdrawal symptoms include rebound depression, irritability, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, nightmares, headache, and paresthesia (prickling, tingling sensation on the skin). This then can lead to a cycle of addiction and dependence where individuals build up a tolerance and effectively take more and more of the medication in an effort to prevent the debilitating effects of withdrawal.
Signs that indicate someone may have a Remeron addiction include:
- Taking Remeron longer then prescribed
- Needing more and more of the drug to elicit the same effects
- Spending the majority of the day thinking about Remeron: how to get more, the effects it produces, and when to use it
- Being unable to stop using the medication
- Faking symptoms to get Remeron prescriptions
- Sudden changes in physical appearance, hygiene, and behavior
Another potential side effect of Remeron addiction is overdose if an individual takes too much of the drug. A Remeron overdose can cause severe health problems such as cardiac arrest, dangerously low blood pressure, and seizures. In extreme cases, respiratory depression and even death can occur. Signs of overdose include chest pain, hallucinations, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, slurred speech, trouble breathing, and extreme drowsiness. The risk of overdose is significantly increased when Remeron is combined with other drugs, particularly central nervous system depressants such as alcohol or benzodiazepines. This combination can cause extreme drowsiness and respiratory depression, but many people that abuse Remeron will mix the two regardless to increase the intoxication experienced.
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Remeron Abuse Statistics
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that more than 50 million Americans aged 12 or over have abused a prescription drug at least once in their lives.
In U.S. controlled studies, 54% of patients reported experiencing the negative side effect of somnolence (excessive drowsiness and sedation) while taking Remeron.
Women are twice as likely as men to be prescribed antidepressant medication such as Remeron.
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Remeron can be an effective way to help manage depression, but it’s important to remember that abuse of any prescription drug can be dangerous and lead to the development of a serious addiction. If you think that a loved one may be abusing or addicted to Remeron, know that there are multiple treatment options available to you. Common treatment services for antidepressant addiction include medical detox, inpatient or outpatient rehab, and aftercare. Contact a dedicated treatment provider and get started on the road towards recovery today.