Does Methamphetamine Cause Serotonin Syndrome?

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Serotonin is a chemical that works in one’s body by relaying messages between nerve cells and regulating their intensity. Medical News Today asserts that this neurotransmitter appears to play a role in one’s mood, emotions, appetite, and digestion. The Mayo Clinic explains “Serotonin syndrome occurs when you take medications that cause high levels of the chemical serotonin to accumulate in your body.” There are a variety of medications that when taken alone or in conjunction with other medications can lead to the development of serotonin syndrome. Some individuals are more susceptible to serotonin syndrome, but it can occur in anyone. An excess of serotonin in one’s system can cause an individual to experience symptoms that can range from mild to severe. Common signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome could include, but are not limited to any combination of the following examples, provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heart rate and high blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Loss of muscle coordination or twitching muscles
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Heavy sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Shivering
  • Goose bumps

Signs of severe serotonin syndrome include:

  • High fever
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Unconsciousness

The symptoms of serotonin syndrome typically occur within several hours of ingesting the precipitating substance or substances. If left untreated, severe serotonin syndrome can be life-threatening. 


Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is a synthetic chemical. It is a highly addictive, neuro-toxic, central nervous system stimulant. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), classifies meth as a Schedule II Controlled Substance, which is defined as a drug “with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Meth works by acting on certain neurotransmitters. The presence of methamphetamines in one’s system creates a surge of dopamine in one’s brain while simultaneously decreasing one’s serotonin level. This combination produces a feeling of excess pleasure; this is described as the rush of euphoria that is experienced by methamphetamine users. Since methamphetamine does not cause a build-up of serotonin, meth is not recognized as one of the substances that could lead to serotonin syndrome.

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