Last Updated on June 13, 2024 by Dr. Alberto Solà

Mirtazapine is an antidepressant that is commonly prescribed to people struggling with depression, anxiety, or both conditions. It’s sold under the brand name Remeron in the United States. This drug is most often used to treat people diagnosed with major depressive disorder, but people who suffer from major depressive disorder aren’t its only users. This drug is also prescribed for other issues and ailments – some for which it was designed and for others that are off-label. Although mirtazapine is considered to be a drug with little potential for addiction, some people do become dependent on it over time. Read on to learn more about mirtazapine. 

What is Mirtazapine (Remeron)?

Remeron or mitrazapine is primarily used as an antidepressant. Mirtazapine medication is part of a class of drugs called tetracyclic antidepressants. This drug works with the brain’s neurotransmitters in the brain. It alters their levels, thereby balancing brain chemicals and other chemicals in the central nervous system. 

People who are prescribed this drug usually take it for 40 weeks. During this period, the drug helps “train” the brain in how to release the proper amounts of chemicals to combat the patient’s depression effectively. Many patients start with a single dose of 15 mg daily, taken by mouth before going to bed at night. A doctor may keep the patient on that dosage for the entire 40 weeks or may adjust it as time goes on.

It may be a few weeks before a patient begins to experience the positive effects of Remeron. Some individuals experience an improved mood after one or two weeks; others may not experience positive results until a month into taking the drug or longer. It’s crucial that individuals taking mirtazapine medication stay on it for the entire time that it is prescribed by their doctors and that they take the drug as directed.

Therapeutic Uses of Mirtazapine

The primary use of mirtazapine is for depression.  The FDA has approved it for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adults, and as a result, that’s the purpose for which it is most commonly prescribed. 

However, this drug is used for other purposes, too. It is prescribed off-label for a variety of other conditions and doctors and patients have both reported anecdotal successes when used for conditions like panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, and appetite. Prescribing mirtazapine for sleep and mirtazapine for anxiety has also resulted in success for some. When doctors prescribe Remeron for insomnia, some individuals report that they are able to fall asleep more easily and stay asleep for longer periods. Other Remeron uses include prescriptions to help alleviate nausea and vomiting, itching, and even headaches and migraines, too.

In these cases, though, Remeron is often prescribed for short-term use or for use that goes beyond the forty-week medication period that is suggested and generally adhered to for major depressive disorder. Because the drug is prescribed in these instances in an off-label capacity, the use of this drug can be dangerous in the long term. Although patients and doctors have found that mirtazapine can be helpful for these off-label purposes, the fact that the FDA has not approved the drug for use to treat these conditions means that the extent of the long-term negative effects are unknown.

Common Side Effects of Mirtazapine

Like all drugs, mirtazapine comes with its own set of side effects. While some mirtazapine side effects are quite mild, others can be somewhat severe. Side effects of mirtazapine include sleepiness, dizziness, increased appetite, and weight gain. Further, some people taking mirtazapine may suffer from abdominal pain, constipation, body aches, strange dreams, difficulty concentrating, and vomiting or diarrhea. More severe and concerning Remeron side effects can include mania, low white blood cell count, and increased potential for suicide. Anyone who takes mirtazapine – including people who are taking it as prescribed by their doctors – should consult with their doctors if they experience any of the above side effects while taking the drug.

Signs and Symptoms of Mirtazapine Abuse and Overdose

Mirtazapine is a drug that has helped many people. Fortunately, it offers a low potential for addiction and dependency. However, as with almost any drug on the market, there is still some possibility of mitrazapine abuse. When someone stops using mirtazapine, they may experience withdrawal symptoms like a sudden return to feelings of immense depression, irritability, nausea, dizziness, nightmares, headaches, and more. When the forty-week course of medication comes to an end, both doctors and individuals taking Remeron should be on the lookout for these symptoms. There are many things that can be done to manage these symptoms without taking more mirtazapine.

Is mirtazapine addictive? This drug is not as addictive as many other legal and illegal drugs out there, but people may take Remeron for longer than prescribed to avoid or alleviate the withdrawal symptoms at the end of their prescribed course. They may find that they are unable to stop using the medication on their own and may find that they need more of the drug to feel the same effects. Individuals who have completed their course of mirtazapine might find themselves thinking about the drug all the time and may try to figure out how they can get more.

Again, if this is the case, it’s important that the patient speak to his or her doctor about how to overcome these feelings. The doctor can help the patient taper off the drug in a healthy way.

Mirtazapine overdose is usually not deadly, but it can result in a high heart rate and depression of the central nervous system; both of these things can be quite dangerous for people with related conditions.

Risk Factors for Mirtazapine Addiction

Because mirtazapine is a relatively safe antidepressant, occasional alcoholic beverages may not cause any issues. Of course, anyone taking mirtazapine should confirm with their doctor that the combination of mirtazapine and alcohol is permitted in their case. A combination of Remeron and alcohol may make one feel sleepy or unbalanced, but for the most part, drinking a few drinks – in moderation – while using Remeron, is generally okay.

Mirtazapine Withdrawal

One of the biggest issues with mirtazapine is withdrawal when stopping use. This is something that affects almost all users and it is this withdrawal that makes abuse and ongoing, unprescribed use of the drug a common problem. Although mirtazapine can be incredibly helpful for people struggling with major clinical depression and other issues, when the time comes to stop using it, mirtazapine withdrawal symptoms are extremely common and affect almost all users to some degree. Because Remeron withdrawal can be rather intense in some cases, users who have completed their course of treatment with this drug may seek it out afterward and may continue using it outside of their doctor’s knowledge and recommendation on an ongoing basis to avoid the common Remeron withdrawal symptoms.

The best thing to do with Remeron or any other drug prescribed by a doctor is to only use it as prescribed and to stop using it when directed. If a user struggles with quitting and with the withdrawal symptoms that come along with doing so, he or she should speak to his or her doctor about how to taper off slowly and about how to manage those symptoms when they arise.

Treatment for Mirtazapine Addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with mirtazapine addiction and is having trouble stopping use independently, even after consulting a doctor, then treatment is available. Clear Sky Recovery can help. We are dedicated to helping people break free from any type of addiction, but we are highly experienced in treating addiction to opioids. Our innovative ibogaine therapy treatment helps our clients take the first steps toward a clean, sober, and healthy lifestyle moving forward. Ibogaine gives people the opportunity to go deep within themselves to discover the root cause of their addiction and can help them avoid painful withdrawals while doing so. When clients visit our facility in Cancun, Mexico, they will work with our experienced staff to move forward in their lives in a positive way that is free from Remeron and other drugs. Give us a call today. We can’t wait to hear from you.