Preparing for your appointment

Because serotonin syndrome can be a life-threatening condition, seek emergency treatment if you have worsening or severe symptoms.

If your symptoms aren't severe, you're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and to know what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment steps you need to take. When you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as quitting any of the current medications or supplements you take.
  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
  • Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to absorb all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For symptoms you think may be caused by serotonin syndrome, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • Is serotonin syndrome most likely causing my symptoms, or could it be something else?
  • Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes of my symptoms?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • What is the best course of action?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Can I still take the medications I've been prescribed, or will I need to change them or change the dose?
  • Are there any restrictions that I need to follow, such as avoiding certain drugs or supplements?

Don't hesitate to ask your doctor any other questions you have.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:

  • When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What prescription and over-the-counter medications do you take?
  • Do you use any illicit drugs?
  • Do you take any dietary supplements?
Jan. 20, 2017
References
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  2. Boyer EW. Serotonin syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 8, 2016.
  3. Iqbal MM, et al. Overview of serotonin syndrome. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry. 2012;24:310.
  4. Ables AZ, et al. Prevention, diagnosis, and management of serotonin syndrome. American Family Physician. 2010;81:1139.
  5. Information for healthcare professionals: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor agonists (triptans). U.S. Food & Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/DrugSafetyInformationforHeathcareProfessionals/ucm085845.htm. Accessed Dec. 8, 2016.
  6. Ganetsky, M. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor poisoning. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 8, 2016.
  7. FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA warns about several safety issues with opioid pain medicines; requires label changes. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/ucm489676.htm. Accessed Dec. 8, 2016.
  8. Hall-Flavin, D (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Rochester, Minn. Dec. 9, 2016.