Effects of low-dose mirtazapine on driving performance in healthy volunteers

Hum Psychopharmacol. 2013 Sep;28(5):523-8. doi: 10.1002/hup.2327. Epub 2013 Jun 30.


Objective: This study aimed to assess whether a lower initial dose of mirtazapine can lessen the harmful effect on driving performance or not in a double-blinded, placebo-controlled crossover trial.

Methods: Thirteen healthy men received 8 days of continuous nocturnal doses of mirtazapine at 7.5 mg or 15 mg, or placebo. At baseline and on days 2 and 9, subjects performed three driving tasks (road-tracking, car-following, and harsh-braking tasks) using a driving simulator and a Continuous Performance Test. Stanford Sleepiness Scale (SSS) scores were also assessed. In the mirtazapine 7.5 mg series, 15 mg of mirtazapine was additionally administered on day 9, followed by all the same assessments on day 10.

Results: Mirtazapine 7.5 mg had no significant effects on any tasks except for SSS compared with placebo. Mirtazapine 15 mg impaired road-tracking task and SSS. The increase in mirtazapine dose also had no significant effects on any tasks compared with those before dose increase.

Conclusions: Mirtazapine 7.5 mg did not cause driving impairment compared with mirtazapine 15 mg, while both doses of mirtazapine produced subjective somnolence. The increase in mirtazapine had no detrimental effects on psychomotor performance. Initial low-dose mirtazapine may be safer for automobile driving than the normal starting dose.

Keywords: cognitive function; driving performance; mirtazapine; sedation; starting dose.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Adult
  • Automobile Driving* / psychology
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Healthy Volunteers* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mianserin / administration & dosage
  • Mianserin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mirtazapine
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Reaction Time / physiology


  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Mianserin
  • Mirtazapine