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: 6/16/2024)
Click here to contact Bryan Hayes, PharmD

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.