Mirtazapine is an effective treatment for depression, which is the primary function of the drug. Studies have shown that patients taking mirtazapine for depression had similar or higher recovery rates than patients taking other antidepressants such as trazadone or amitriptyline. Patients taking mirtazapine have longer remission times than patients taking amitriptyline, which means that their depression clears up for longer without reoccurring. The drug is used for both major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Doctors believe that depression is caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters within the brain, particularly serotonin and noradrenaline. Most antidepressant drugs are designed to bring the levels of these neurotransmitters back into balance by, essentially, making more available to stimulate other nerves within the brain. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most common form of antidepressant, and these focus mainly on serotonin levels. Mirtazapine for depression works by increasing the levels of both serotonin and noradrenaline, and evidence suggests that the onset of action is quicker than with SSRIs. The drug is available in 15, 30, or 45 milligram (mg) oral tablets, with most patients taking 15 mg per day.
Research conducted on the effects of mirtazapine for depression indicates that the drug is as effective as or more effective than other antidepressant medicines. Studies have compared the effects of mirtazapine with other antidepressant drugs such as fluoxetine, paroxetine, trazadone, and citalopram. The drug is more effective than fluoxetine, paroxetine, and citalopram, and at least as effective as trazadone. All of these drugs are approved and widely used treatments for depression, and the similar or greater effectiveness of mirtazapine indicates that the drug is another very good option. Patients who have adverse reactions to other antidepressant medications may also have a better reaction to mirtazapine.
Patients using mirtazapine for depression commonly experience dry mouth, increased appetite, or dizziness. Other side effects, such as constipation, confusion, or abnormal dreams, are less common. The most serious possible side effects when using mirtazapine for depression include seizures, manic episodes, and abnormal heart beats. Despite these side effects, research shows that mirtazapine doesn’t cause many of the side effects associated with SSRIs and that, overall, patients tolerate the treatment as well as any other competing treatment. It should be noted, however, that antidepressants have been known to increase the risk of suicide in young children or adolescents.