UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Cyproheptadine for Serotonin Syndrome

Keywords: serotonin syndrome, cyproheptadine (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/12/2010 by Bryan Hayes, PharmD (Updated: 12/9/2022)
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If benzodiazepines and supportive care fail to improve agitation and correct vital signs, several case reports indicate the successful use of cyproheptadine, an antihistamine with nonspecific antagonist effects at 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A receptors.

Cyproheptadine is available in 4 mg tablets or 2 mg/5 mL syrup. When administered as an antidote for serotonin syndrome, an initial dose of 8-12 mg is recommended, followed by 2 mg every two hours until clinical response is seen. Cyproheptadine is only available in an oral form, but it may be crushed and given through a nasogastric tube.

Cyproheptadine may lead to sedation, but this effect is consistent with the goals of management. It may also produce transient hypotension due to the reversal of serotonin-mediated increases in vascular tone. Such hypotension usually responds to IV fluids. Cyproheptadine is rated category B for safety in pregnancy by the FDA.