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Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine) Medication Information
Pristiq is a prescription medication for treating major depressive disorder (MDD) in adults. MDD is a mood disorder commonly known as “depression.”
If you’ve been experiencing persistent and intense feelings of sadness for more than 2 weeks, you may have MDD.
MDD occurs when the levels of neurotransmitters (chemicals) in the brain become unbalanced. Neurotransmitters function to relay messages from one brain cell to another. Serotonin and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters that can become imbalanced and lead to MDD.
Pristiq works by affecting the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Desvenlafaxine belongs to a class of antidepressant medications known as the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
Pristiq is an oral tablet that comes in three strengths:
- 25 milligrams (mg)
- 50 mg
- 100 mg
Take your dose once daily, with or without food, exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
Pristiq may not be safe for people with the following conditions:
- High blood pressure
- Bipolar disorder
- Kidney or liver problems
- History of an allergic reaction to Desvenlafaxine or venlafaxine hydrochloride (Effexor)
- Pregnant or planning to become pregnant
- Breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed
Like all medications, Pristiq has risks. The most common side effects are mild, but severe side effects are also possible.
The most common but usually mild side effects include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Decreased appetite
- Sexual function disorders in males
Serious side effects can rarely occur with Pristiq. These may include:
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Serotonin syndrome (symptoms include confusion, increased heart rate, dizziness, tremors, seizures, nausea, vomiting, muscle twitches, increased body temperature)
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of bleeding or bruising
- Eye problems (angle-closure glaucoma)
- Hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels)
- Lung problems
- Allergic reaction
Your doctor will prescribe Pristiq if they feel that its benefits outweigh your risks for serious side effects. For more information about the side effects of Pristiq, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Some potentially harmful drug interactions can happen with Pristiq. A few examples include:
- MAOIs (selegiline, phenelzine)
- SSRIs (Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft)
- Other antidepressants (amitriptyline, doxepin, nortriptyline)
- Stimulants (amphetamines)
- Ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Blood thinners
Talk with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any other medications or herbal supplements with Pristiq.
Store at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
- Take your dose around the same time each day.
- Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how Pristiq affects you.
- After taking Pristiq, you may notice something that looks like a tablet in your stool. This is an empty shell from the Pristiq tablet. The medication has already been absorbed in your body. If this occurs, do not take any extra doses of Pristiq.
Can I drink alcohol with Pristiq?
No, it’s recommended to avoid alcohol while taking Pristiq.
How quickly does Pristiq work?
The response to Pristiq is different for everyone. Some people may see some improvement in their symptoms within two weeks, and for others, it may take several weeks. Do not stop taking Pristiq without talking with your doctor first.
Will Pristiq affect my sex drive?
In clinical studies, sexual side effects were reported in a small percentage of men. The most common sexual side effects included decreased sex drive, delayed ejaculation, and erectile dysfunction. Side effects may increase with higher doses of Pristiq.
- Pristiq Prescribing Information. Philadelphia, PA: Wyeth Pharmaceuticals LLC; 2018. http://labeling.pfizer.com/showlabeling.aspx?id=497 Accessed January 16, 2021.
- Bains N, Abdijadid S. Major Depressive Disorder. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing; 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559078/ Accessed January 16, 2021.
Author: Dr. Patricia Weiser, PharmD
Patricia Weiser, PharmD, is a licensed pharmacist and medical writer. She has clinical experience in community and hospital pharmacy. Patricia is a 2007 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. She resides in Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters.
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.