Can Imitrex (Sumatriptan) Cause You To Be Emotional?

Changes in emotion is a reported side effect of 'Triptan' medications, including Imitrex. It is considered rare however.

Question

Can Imitrex (sumatriptan) cause emotionality? Each time I take it, within a few hours, I have increased weepiness, increased worry, and tend to then make poor decisions. I have definitely noticed a pattern.

Asked by Liz On Nov 12, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Nov 13, 2018
Triptan HA Title

Overview

Imitrex (sumatriptan) is rarely associated with a variety neurological adverse effects, including 'disturbance of emotion'. The prescribing information for Imitrex lists the incidence rate of this side effect at less than 1%.


Associated adverse neurological effects of Imitrex include (<0.1-1% incidence rate):

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Euphoria
  • Aggressiveness
  • Apathy
  • Detachment
  • Personality change


Imitrex, a drug in the 'Triptan' class, works stimulating specific serotonin receptors in the body. The serotonin effects are thought to be what could potentially cause the neurological adverse effects described above (1, 2, 3, 4).


It isn't known whether or not any one 'Triptan' medication has a higher incidence rate of neurological side effects than another.


It is important to discuss the side effects you are experiencing with your doctor and decide on the appropriate action, whether it be trying a different 'Triptan' or discontinuing the medication all together.


About 'Triptans'

All 'Triptans' (including Imitrex) are indicated for the acute treatment of moderate to severe migraine headache. Minor differences exist between them in regard to:

  • Duration of action
  • Onset of action
  • Efficacy
  • Safety
  • Tolerability


The exact mechanism of action of 'Triptan' medications isn't known and multiple pharmacological actions have been suggested to be important for anti-migraine effects, including:

  • Stimulating 5-HT1D serotonin receptors, inhibiting both dural vasodilation and inflammation (5). 
  • Stimulating 5-HT1B serotonin receptors, inhibiting trigeminal nuclei cell nociceptive neurotransmission (6).
  • Vasoconstriction of painfully dilated intracranial vessels.


Imitrex is the only 'Triptan' available for subcutaneous injection, which studies have shown has a faster onset of action and is more effective than other formulations. It is however, associated with a greater risk of side effects (7).


'Triptan' medications should be used as soon as symptoms of migraine occur (within 4 hours of onset of symptoms but preferably within 1 hour) for greatest efficacy.


Imitrex Side Effects

Imitrex Structure

The most commonly reported side effects of Imitrex are:

  • Paresthesias (i.e. tingling)
  • "Warm sensations" (i.e. flushing)
  • Dizziness
  • Somnolence (i.e. sleepiness)
  • Chest discomfort 

Other reported side effects include:

  • Dysgeusia (i.e. altered taste)
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Runny nose
  • Changes in emotions
  • Rebound headaches (from overuse)
  • Changes in heart rhythm
  • Chest pains
  • Lightheadedness


In regard to 'rebound headaches', they have been reported when use of a 'Triptan', such as Imitrex, has exceeded 10 days per month. They are characterized by a significant increase in headache frequency.


If rebound headaches occur with Imitrex, withdrawal treatment of associated symptoms is typically necessary.


Additional Information

Additional information regarding Imitrex (sumatriptan) can be found here:

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger Pharm.D

Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist in New York State and the founder of PharmacistAnswers.com. He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor Of Pharmacy degree in 2010. He has been featured in several publications including the Huffington Post as well as a variety of health and pharmacy related blogs. Please feel free to reach out to him directly if you have any questions or want to connect! [email protected]; Office: 716-389-3076

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