What is Serotonin Syndrome?

Serotonin syndrome is a health issue that normally occurs when there is an excess of this neurotransmitter in the body. This condition can be triggered by intake of serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs which alter one’s serotonin levels. Normally, the symptoms associated with this condition can disappear within a day or two, but when left untreated, this can worsen over time.

What is serotonin? Serotonin is the one that is responsible for handling the nervous system, as well as muscle tone, body temperature, blood vessel constriction, behavior, as well as gut function. When your serotonin levels go up, it can affect the rest of your body too.

Symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome

What symptoms can appear when you have serotonin syndrome? Here are a few that you should take note of:

Rigid muscles

One of the symptoms that can occur when you have serotonin syndrome is rigid muscles. Your muscles feel a little bit stiff, tense, or even painful without any reason at all. Your doctor may prescribe you medication such as a sedative to alleviate the discomfort that you are feeling.


Any changes to your reflexes may be a sign that you are suffering from serotonin syndrome. Shaking or spasms in your limbs, over-exaggerated reflexes, or sudden lack of coordination can be triggered by serotonin syndrome.

Changes to your mental state

Have you noticed that your mental state has changed? Do you find yourself becoming irritable, depressed, angry, weepy, and so on? It might be that your mental state is affected because of your serotonin levels. Like it was mentioned before, when you are suffering from serotonin syndrome, your mental state can be affected too.

Dry mouth

Another possible symptom that is associated with serotonin syndrome is dry mouth. Although this is a common side effect by those who are taking antidepressants, if this is your first time to experience it without taking any medication, it might be because your serotonin levels are way up.

Diagnosing and Treating Serotonin Syndrome

There is no single test that can determine whether you have serotonin syndrome or not. Most doctors will require several tests that can rule out other causes of the symptoms mentioned above. Aside from your current symptoms, your doctor will check your medical history as well as any medications that you may be taking. Among the tests that they will require is to see if there are any signs of infection, measure the levels of any medication that you are taking, and monitor body functions for any other signs.

As for the treatments, it usually depends on how severe your serotonin syndrome is.

Minor symptoms

A trip to the doctor can help determine the best course of action to take and sometimes, stopping your intake of medication can solve the problem already.

Symptoms that are of concern to your doctor

You will be asked to stay in the hospital for several hours to undergo some tests.

Severe symptoms

You will be staying overnight to receive treatment for serotonin syndrome.

Types of Treatments

Depending on the symptoms that you are exhibiting, the following treatments may be used:

Blocking agents

Doctors may prescribe serotonin-production blocking agents if the symptoms are still the same. One example of blocking agents is cyproheptadine.

Medication for blood pressure or heart rate

If you have a high heart rate or elevated blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medications to lower them to more normal levels. On the other hand, if your blood pressure or heart rate is quite low, you will be given medications to increase their levels to suitable numbers to avoid serotonin syndrome.

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