What is Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine): Uses, Dosage, Interactions, & Side Effects

July 3, 2021

Pristiq is a prescription medication that is available under the generic name Desvenlafaxine, and is also sometimes referred to as Khedezla. It comes in the form of an extended release tablet to be taken by mouth. Extended release tablets are slowly released into your body over time.

Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine) belongs to a class of medications known as antidepressants, but this specific one is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). It is used to treat major depression.

If you’re feeling sad or hopeless and are thinking about talking to your doctor about starting on a prescription antidepressant, it’s good to know your options ahead of time. 

Here is everything you need to know about Pristiq so you can determine if this medication is right for you.

Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine) for Depression

The main reason that this medication may be prescribed is to treat symptoms of major depression. 

Major depressive disorder is a serious mental health condition marked by feelings of persistent and intense sadness and hopelessness. It has significant physical and emotional effects that can impact many different areas of your life, including appetite, sleep patterns, relationships, and even your ability to feel joy. 

Depression is often associated with low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. This is a chemical that plays a significant role in regulating mood. Norepinephrine levels have also been associated with depression — this chemical helps the body respond to stress.

SNRI medications like Pristiq can help balance out your levels of serotonin and norepinephrine to help improve your mood and relieve symptoms of depression. 

SNRIs work by blocking the reabsorption, or reuptake, of serotonin and norepinephrine. As a result, each of these chemicals are more abundant in the brain for your brain to use. 

SNRIs work in a similar way to SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These focus on blocking the reabsorption of serotonin into the brain and are among the most commonly prescribed antidepressants.

Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine) for Anxiety

Pristiq is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat depression. However, it is not approved to treat anxiety. If your doctor prescribes Pristiq for treating anxiety, this is what’s referred to as an “off-label” use — this simply means that this specific use isn’t what the drug was originally approved to do by the FDA, but it may still be effective.

One review looked at how well Pristiq worked for reducing the symptoms of anxiety in individuals who have depression. It found that the medication worked significantly better than a placebo. 

Another study used Pristiq to treat social anxiety disorder. Those who took the medication appeared to improve significantly, though the limited sample size makes the findings less reliable.

It should be noted that there is not yet clinical research that has shown how well Pristiq works for generalized anxiety disorder on its own.

Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine) Dosage

Your doctor will have specific instructions for you on how to take your Pristiq. However, it is typically taken once per day with or without food. The usual dose is generally somewhere between 50 mg and 400 mg. You’ll likely start at the lower end of this spectrum and gradually increase the dose over time.

If you miss a dose of Pristiq, you generally shouldn’t double your dose or take extra doses to make up for it. 

Missing a dose of this medication can increase your risk of certain symptoms returning. Try to keep a consistent schedule for the best results.

Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine) Side Effects

Like any medication, Pristiq has a number of possible side effects. Common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Increased sweating
  • Decreased appetite

These side effects often improve after a few weeks of taking the medication. 

However, Pristiq may cause ejaculatory delay or increase in blood pressure, which typically do not improve over time.

Serious side effects of this medication are also possible. One possible side effect is serotonin syndrome, which occurs when you take medications that cause high levels of serotonin to accumulate in the body. If you experience high fever, seizures, irregular heartbeat, or unconsciousness, it is important to seek emergency care immediately.

Additionally, Pristiq may also lower the sodium levels in your body. This can result in headaches, weakness, difficulty concentrating, or trouble remembering short term information.

Depression is a factor of bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder who take antidepressants such as Pristiq are at risk of fluctuating between depression and mania.

If you stop taking Pristiq abruptly, you also increase your risk of developing withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, nausea, headaches, nightmares, or vomiting.

Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine) Drug Interactions

Pristiq might interact with other medications. Interactions can change the effectiveness of the medication and can even be harmful to your health.

This medication should never be taken with MAOIs, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Taking these together increases your risk of developing serotonin syndrome. You should let your doctor know if you have taken any MAOIs in the past 14 days.

Taking other antidepressant medications, such as SSRIs or tricyclics, can also increase your risk of developing side effects. Additionally, they can increase the amount of serotonin in your body to dangerous levels.

You also should avoid alcohol while taking Pristiq as it can decrease its efficacy. Conversely, taking antidepressants with alcohol can enhance the effects of alcohol, making you feel more impaired or nauseous than normal.

In Conclusion

Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine) is an SNRI antidepressant. It works by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine into the brain, therefore making them more abundant and available for use. This makes the medication effective for treating major depressive disorder, as these neurochemicals both heavily influence the illness.

While it’s not FDA approved for anxiety, Pristiq has shown promise as an effective off-label treatment for social anxiety disorder and anxiety as a symptom of depression.

Side effects of this medication may include headaches, dizziness, dry mouth, and more. While rare, taking Pristiq can increase the risk of developing serotonin syndrome, a serious condition caused by excess serotonin in the body.

Additionally, Pristiq should not be taken with other medications without your doctor’s approval. Combining this medication with others may decrease its efficacy or lead to harmful side effects.

If depression is getting the best of you, a medication like Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine) might be an effective option for you. YANA Mental Health can get you on the path to recovery by pairing you with a doctor who will develop a personalized treatment plan just for you. If prescribed, medication will be sent straight to your door — quickly and discreetly. 

YANA provides quality mental health care on your terms, at your own pace. 

Click here to learn more about the YANA difference.

Sources:

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) | The Mayo Clinic

Analysis of the Effect of Desvenlafaxine on Anxiety Symptoms Associated with Major Depressive Disorder: Pooled Data from 9 Short-Term, Double-blind, Placebo-Controlled Trials Cambridge Core

(PDF) A 12-Week Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Flexible-Dose Trial of Desvenlafaxine Extended-Release Tablets in Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder | ResearchGate

Serotonin syndrome – Symptoms and causes | The Mayo Clinic