Acute poisoning from atypical (non-SSRI) antidepressants, including serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI)
- Alicia B Minns, MD
Alicia B Minns, MD
- Associate Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine
- Fellowship Director, Medical Toxicology Fellowship
- University of California San Diego School of Medicine
- Section Editor
- Stephen J Traub, MD
Stephen J Traub, MD
- Section Editor — Toxicology
- Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine
- Mayo Medical School
- Deputy Editor
- Jonathan Grayzel, MD, FAAEM
Jonathan Grayzel, MD, FAAEM
- Senior Deputy Editor — UpToDate
- Deputy Editor — Emergency Medicine (Adult and Pediatric)
- Deputy Editor — Primary Care Sports Medicine (Adolescents and Adults)
- Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
- University of Massachusetts Medical School
The dual-action serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) and other atypical antidepressants were introduced over the last two decades and are used to treat of a variety of conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and smoking cessation. Atypical antidepressants are those that do not clearly fit the standard classifications for antidepressants (discussed below). Most are derivatives of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
While generally safer in overdose than tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), SNRIs may exhibit greater toxicity than SSRIs . Commonly used atypical antidepressants include venlafaxine (Effexor), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), milnacipran (Savella), mirtazapine (Remeron), and bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban), and vilazodone (Viibryd).
The clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and management of acute poisoning from SNRIs and other common atypical antidepressants are reviewed here. The therapeutic use of these medications, management of poisoning from SSRIs, the diagnosis and management of serotonin syndrome, and other related issues are discussed separately. (See "Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): Pharmacology, administration, and side effects" and "Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor poisoning" and "Serotonin syndrome (serotonin toxicity)" and "General approach to drug poisoning in adults" and "Approach to the child with occult toxic exposure".)
PHARMACOLOGY AND CELLULAR TOXICOLOGY
Atypical antidepressants are those that do not clearly fit the standard classifications for antidepressants. They are not monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI), cyclic antidepressants (CA), or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). However, most share structural similarities with SSRIs. Although atypical antidepressants manifest fewer side effects than MAOIs and CAs, a few drugs in this class are more toxic than SSRIs in overdose.
Serotonin is produced by the metabolism of L-tryptophan. It exerts its action by binding to 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HT) receptors, of which there are seven types that are further divided into multiple subtypes. In the central nervous system (CNS), serotonergic neurons are primarily located in the brainstem and assist in the regulation of sleep, affective behavior, food intake, temperature regulation, migraines, emesis, sexual behavior, nociception, and motor tone. In the peripheral nervous system, serotonin plays a role in the regulation of vascular tone and gastrointestinal motility. Although most adverse effects of SNRIs are a direct extension of the pharmacologic effects of serotonin, certain agents have unique toxicities, as outlined below .To continue reading this article, you must log in with your personal, hospital, or group practice subscription. For more information on subscription options, click below on the option that best describes you:
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- PHARMACOLOGY AND CELLULAR TOXICOLOGY
- CLINICAL FEATURES OF OVERDOSE
- Overview of toxicity
- Physical examination
- Important potential features of SNRI poisoning
- - Serotonin toxicity
- - Seizures
- - QTc interval prolongation
- TOXICOLOGY OF SPECIFIC AGENTS
- DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS
- LABORATORY EVALUATION
- Serotonin toxicity
- Cardiac toxicity
- - Signs of sodium channel blockade
- - QTc interval prolongation
- Gastrointestinal decontamination
- Cardiovascular collapse
- Extracorporeal removal
- PEDIATRIC CONSIDERATIONS
- ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
- SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS