Medication Monday: Metyrapone

Welcome to the first Medication Monday of 2021, and am I ever excited about it! For those of you who are new to the site, Medication Monday is the weekly series that examines mental health medications, as well as some of the common issues associated with these medications. Today, I am talking about something kind of cutting edge, something that with more research might become an effective treatment for depression down the road, which is the medication metyrapone, which also might go by the common name metopirone.

Metyrapone is a medication used to test if your pituitary gland is sending the correct signals to your adrenal gland to produce cortisol, a stress hormone that is important in the body’s overall functioning, and that may play a significant role in depression. In addition to testing the function of the pituitary and adrenal glands, metyrapone is used to treat Cushing’s syndrome, a hormone disorder in which the body produces too much cortisol. Data are also suggestive of the fact that this medication may help alleviate symptoms of depression, particularly in cases of treatment-resistant depression where traditional antidepressants such as SSRIs might not be sufficient.

This medication is typically taken with milk or with a snack, as directed by your health care professional. It does have some side effects, including dizziness, or drowsiness, nausea or upset stomach, and headaches. Because dizziness or drowsiness are already possible side effects of this medication, users should use caution before mixing with alcohol or marijuana. Additionally, pregnant women should only take this medication if absolutely medically necessary.

And this is the part of the post where I would normally tell you that you should ask your doctor about metyrapone and its side effects if you want more information, but given that this medication has only recently been considered as a possible option for depression, it is unlikely to be prescribed specifically for mental health purposes in the immediate future. However, given that depression can be a life-long battle, particularly if you have treatment-resistant depression, it is good to know about options that might be coming down the pike.

Lastly, as I like to remind people, mostly so there is no chance of anyone suing me, Medication Monday is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. If you have questions about any of the medications I discuss in this series, please, do not bring them up with me, but rather talk to your doctor or psychopharmacologist about them. Medication Monday is merely meant as a brief, informative introduction the mental health medications, and as such, I thank you for reading.

Be well.

Sources: WebMD – Metyrapone; Psychiatric disorders associated with Cushing’s syndrome. Epidemiology, pathophysiology and treatment; Metyrapone in treatment-resistant depression.

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