skip to Main Content

Milnacipran: Risk of Serotonin Syndrome/Serotonin Toxicity

woman with a pill planner organizing her medicine including milnacipran

Milnacipran increases serotonin levels in the brain, which can lead to an alarming condition known as serotonin syndrome. Many other countries market Milnacipran as a treatment for depression. Still, do not use it solely to treat depression since it is not an FDA-approved antidepressant in the United States.

What is Milnacipran Used For? 

Milnacipran is used to treat fibromyalgia, a condition that affects muscles, ligaments, and tendons. People with this condition often experience chronic pain and tenderness in muscles and joints. Accompanying the chronic pain, people with this condition may also experience fatigue, sleep disturbances, and difficulty concentrating. There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, but several medication based and nondrug treatments exist. 

What is Serotonin Syndrome? 

Serotonin syndrome, currently referred to as serotonin toxicity, is a drug reaction disorder that occurs when there is excessive serotonin in the body. It typically occurs from medication use and can cause someone to experience high fever, confusion, and seizures. These symptoms can be life-threatening. 

Which Drugs Cause Serotonin Syndrome? 

Many drugs may cause serotonin syndrome, but it mainly occurs when a person is on several different types of medication at one time that affects the body’s serotonin levels. For example, buspirone or another type of antidepressant (venlafaxine or trazodone) in combination with other similar medications can be a problem. Even supplements such as St. John’s Wort and the cough suppressant dextromethorphan can cause serotonin syndrome.

Serotonin Syndrome Symptoms

Serotonin syndrome symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening. Symptoms include fast heart rate, fever, abnormal muscle movements, muscle rigidity, confusion, agitation, and seizures. 

These signs and symptoms occur within hours after taking certain medications, which can worsen if a person continues to take their medications. Go the doctor to obtain a diagnosis for serotonin syndrome since no blood test exists for this disorder. 

Does Serotonin Syndrome Go Away? 

Yes, Serotonin syndrome does go away with treatment. Fortunately, most people recover without complications. It’s essential to get help immediately for the person experiencing symptoms to increase their chances of recovery with no complications and avoid significant illness or death. 

Why is Milnacipran a Risk for Serotonin Syndrome?

Milnacipran is a risk for serotonin syndrome because it is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), which increases the balance of serotonin in the brain. If you take milnacipran with other serotonin-increasing medication, your risk of serotonin syndrome increases. To reduce this risk, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider before taking any new medication. 

Some milnacipran side effects may include nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, dizziness, loss of appetite, increased sweating, headache, or hot flashes. 

Questions About Milnacipran or Serotonin Syndrome? Call The Missouri Poison Center! 

If you or someone you know is taking milnacipran and experiencing side effects or serotonin syndrome, call the Missouri Poison Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222. Our poison center staff is staffed by specially trained nurses and pharmacists who are available 24/7/365. 


MedicinePrevention For All Ages
Call Now