Are there any foods to avoid while taking mirtazapine?

Are there any foods to avoid while taking mirtazapine?

 · 7 min read
Last updated and fact checked:

When using mirtazapine, avoid high-tyramine foods (aged cheese, cured meats), grapefruit, excess alcohol, herbs like St. John’s wort and Kava, and consider reducing your caffeine intake. These can all interact adversely with mirtazapine, leading to side effects or reduced effectiveness.

  • Mirtazapine is a common antidepressant used to treat common mental health conditions.
  • It is best to avoid the over-consumption of alcohol and grapefruit juice while taking mirtazapine.
  • Certain herbal remedies, such as St. John’s wort, should not be taken with mirtazapine.
  • Always seek professional medical advice before making any medication decisions.

Taking mirtazapine: FAQs

  • What is mirtazapine?

    Mirtazapine, an antidepressant, is prescribed to address various mental health conditions including major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic attacks, and anxiety disorders. It works by elevating the levels of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters in the brain. 

    You can find mirtazapine in the UK under various brand names, such as Remeron or Remeron Soltab, and it is exclusively obtainable with a prescription.

  • Are there any alternative medicines to mirtazapine?

    Yes, there are alternative medications to mirtazapine for treating depression and related conditions. Other antidepressants include duloxetine (Cymbalta), sertraline (Zoloft), venlafaxine, citalopram and paroxetine. Your choice of medication should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider, as it depends on your specific symptoms and needs.

  • What is the correct dose of mirtazapine?

    The usual starting dose of mirtazapine is 15mg to 30mg per day, which your doctor may increase to 45mg per day. If you miss a dose, doctors will often advise you to skip the missed dose and take the next dose at the usual time.

  • What form does mirtazapine come in?

    Mirtazapine comes as traditional tablets, disintegrating tablets (tablets that dissolve in the mouth), or a liquid. It is prescription only, and it’s not available to buy over-the-counter.

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Health Times. Commissions do not affect our writers’ or editors’ opinions or evaluations. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Doctors commonly prescribe mirtazapine for depression and anxiety. While most medications do not require you to make significant changes to your diet, that isn’t the case while taking mirtazapine.

The list of foods, drinks, and supplements you should avoid while taking mirtazapine includes:

  • Grapefruit and grapefruit juice. 
  • Caffeine. 
  • Alcohol. 
  • Tyramine-rich foods, including aged cheeses and processed meats. 
  • Certain herbs, including St. John’s wort and Kava.

Let’s explore these in more detail and learn more about mirtazapine.

Get vitamins and medication delivered to your door!

Foods to avoid while taking mirtazapine

Grapefruit

Grapefruit and its juice can interact with certain medications, including mirtazapine, potentially affecting how your body metabolises the drug. It does this by inhibiting specific enzymes in your liver, leading to higher drug concentrations in your bloodstream and blood cells, which can result in possibly harmful effects.

It's a good idea to avoid large quantities of grapefruit or grapefruit juice while taking mirtazapine.

Caffeine

Caffeine has the potential to disrupt your sleep, resulting in fatigue and tiredness the next day. Even though mirtazapine might make you feel drowsy, it's important not to consume too much caffeine to counteract it because that could affect how well the medication works. Try taking mirtazapine before you sleep so you can avoid reaching for caffeinated food and drinks during the day.

Foods with naturally high caffeine content include coffee, tea, and dark chocolate. 

Tyramine-rich foods

Tyramine is a compound found in various aged, fermented, or preserved foods. While it's not a strict rule for everyone, in some cases, consuming high levels of tyramine-rich foods can lead to an increase in blood pressure.

Foods that you should be cautious about over-consuming include aged cheeses, processed meats, and fermented products like sauerkraut.

Herbs to avoid while taking mirtazapine

There are certain herbs and supplements that you should be cautious about when taking mirtazapine as they can potentially interact with it, either intensifying its effects or causing unwanted side effects. Here are some herbs to be mindful of:

St. John’s wort

St. John’s wort is a common herbal remedy widely used to treat mild or moderate depression. However, you should avoid taking St. John’s wort when taking mirtazapine, as it can increase serotonin levels in the blood. Although the brain needs serotonin to combat low mood and depression, too much of this chemical can lead to serotonin syndrome.

Taking St. John’s Wort and mirtazapine together can also lead to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

Kava

Kava is an extract made from the Piper methysticum plant and is used to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. However, it may increase the sedative effects of Mirtazapine, potentially leading to excessive drowsiness and impaired cognitive function.

Valerian root

If you're considering valerian root as a natural sleep aid alongside Mirtazapine, it's crucial to be aware that their combination can amplify drowsiness. This may lead to excessive daytime sleepiness and reduced alertness.

Mirtazapine, recreational drugs, and alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant that impacts the brain and can worsen antidepressant side effects. Combining alcohol and mirtazapine can lead to dizziness, drowsiness, and concentration difficulties.

It also makes it harder for mirtazapine to work correctly; none of us feels ourselves after a day of drinking anyway! Healthcare professionals advise abstaining from alcohol initially to assess its impact on cognition and foster better judgment and mental clarity.

Using recreational drugs, such as cannabis, alongside mirtazapine can yield similar issues, including sleepiness and reduced mental clarity.

How does mirtazapine interact with other medications?

Many drug interactions with mirtazapine come from the excess serotonin they can create in our brains. For example, medications with high levels of lithium or tryptophan can lead to serotonin syndrome when taken alongside mirtazapine.

There are a few other medications that you should not take with mirtazapine:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), a type of antidepressant, can be dangerous when taken with other antidepressants like mirtazapine. MAOIs include tranylcypromine, phenelzine, linezolid, and isocarboxazid. Inform your doctor if you have ever taken MAOIs, even if you are not currently taking them.
  • Strong medications like Tramadol, diazepam, and morphine can worsen the side effects of mirtazapine because they affect the central nervous system, potentially leading to increased drowsiness, dizziness, and respiratory depression when used in combination.
  • Mirtazapine can interact with anticoagulants like warfarin and epilepsy medicines, including carbamazepine and phenytoin, by inhibiting or inducing certain enzymes in the liver that are responsible for breaking down these medications.
  • Methylene blue can interact with serotonergic psychiatric medications, such as mirtazapine, and cause serious central nervous system toxicity.

What are the regular side effects of mirtazapine?

Sleepiness is a common side effect of many antidepressants, including mirtazapine, amitriptyline, and escitalopram. To minimise this side effect, healthcare providers often suggest taking these medications at bedtime.

Other common side effects of mirtazapine include:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Increased appetite and weight gain.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Constipation.
  • Feeling sick.
  • Mild headaches.
  • Dry mouth.

Mirtazapine can lead to suicidal thoughts in some people. It can also cause other serious side effects like hives, trouble breathing, and allergic reactions. Additionally, you may experience mouth blisters, irritation, and sore throats after taking this medication.

Serotonin syndrome, a rare form of mirtazapine poisoning, and hyponatremia, a low sodium level in the blood, are other potential side effects. If you experience any complications or suspect an overdose, contact your GP immediately. They can offer full advice on the impacts of mirtazapine on the body.

Although rare, chest pain, heart attacks and kidney disease are some other severe side effects of mirtazapine that affect less than 1 in 10,000 people. If you experience serious or worsening side effects, you should speak to your healthcare provider immediately.

You should note that these are not all the side effects of mirtazapine. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.

A healthcare provider can also reduce the dosage of a medication if it does not suit you. For example, if you are coming off mirtazapine, your doctor may gradually reduce the dosage to avoid withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of depressive symptoms returning.

Who shouldn’t take mirtazapine?

Your doctor will likely prescribe you a different antidepressant medication if:

  • You have pre-existing low blood pressure, as mirtazapine can lower it further.
  • You have high cholesterol or triglycerides, because mirtazapine can increase cholesterol levels.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding, as the medication can affect the baby.
  • You have glaucoma, as mirtazapine can increase pressure in the eye.
  • You have epilepsy, as mirtazapine can increase the risk of a seizure.

You might still be able to take mirtazapine with these pre-existing medical conditions, but your doctor will make the call.

If you’re experiencing other mental illnesses, you should tell your doctor and understand how an antidepressant will affect your mood and existing mental health concerns. For example, mirtazapine can adversely affect you if you have bipolar disorder or manic depression.

Changing your diet when taking mirtazapine

For the most part, mirtazapine is unaffected by our lifestyle choices. However, there are a few key ways to stay on top of potential side effects, such as avoiding specific herbal remedies and large amounts of alcohol. 

Talking to a doctor is the best way to find up-to-date drug information that meets your needs. If you need urgent advice about any side effects while taking this antidepressant, call 111, or 999 in an emergency.

Image Credit: Pixabay at Pexels

Eleanor Jones
Eleanor Jones
Eleanor joined Health Times in 2022 and is an experienced health and lifestyle writer.
The content on healthtimes.co.uk is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construedas professional medical advice or guidance. Should you need professional medical advice or guidance, you should consult with such a professional in their relevant field. Likewise, you should always seek professional medical advice before starting a diet, exercise regime or course of medication, or introducing or eliminating specific elements from your lifestyle. We strive to write accurate, genuine and helpful content, and all views and opinions expressed within this article are specifically the views of the author.