Mefloquine and its Psychological Effects

By Ursula Biba 

Travelers to areas with high prevalence of malaria are commonly given drugs like atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline and mefloquine to prevent contracting the disease. However, practitioners are concerned with the safety of mefloquine. Introduced in the 1980s, the drug has been linked to various psychological side effects, prompting the creation of a large scale review with 50 randomized studies and 1 million total participants. Findings reveal that mefloquine is related to increased rates of sleeplessness, abnormal dreams, anxiety and depression. Although these links are primarily from patient self-reports, studies have also determined mefloquine to be the cause of one attempted suicide and associated with two deaths. As only less than 1% of travelers treated with mefloquine develop serious side effects, there is no proven increase in formal diagnoses. Thus, more studies need to be performed to determine the true link between the drug and psychosis.


Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. (2017, October 30). New review looks at the effectiveness, side effects of mefloquine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2017 from