Pristiq vs Effexor And Other Alternatives To Desvenlafaxine

Last Updated: November 3, 2021

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Pristiq is an SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) that is effective in the treatment of depression and anxiety. While many patients find Pristiq medication effective, some people don’t react to the drug well and require alternatives. Antidepressants that can act as substitutes for desvenlafaxine differ by type and indications. Only a healthcare professional can determine which medication is best for a person. However, it’s always beneficial for the patient to learn about their options.

Alternative Medications To Desvenlafaxine

For some patients, it is necessary to find alternatives to the drug due to the Pristiq side effects or unavailability of the medication. Switching from one antidepressant to another requires continuous medical attention. Patients should always discuss treatment changes with their doctor before implementing them.

The Most Common Alternative Medications to Desvenlafaxine Include:

All these drugs have their pros and cons which should be considered before administration. Some drugs may have adverse effects during the withdrawal phase. Therefore, patients should be monitored for signs and symptoms of Pristiq withdrawal. Also, doctors may decide to continue with a particular medication if the side effects are manageable. Thus, patients should not hesitate to report any changes during treatment.

Pristiq vs Effexor

Comparing Pristiq vs Effexor, both medications are SNRIs and have a similar mechanism of action. Also known as Venlafaxine, Effexor works by increasing serotonin in the brain while Pristiq also enhances serotonin levels.

The Table Below Compares Pristiq vs Effexor and Summarizes the Similarities and the Differences Between Both Drugs.

DRUG BRAND NAME PRISTIQ EFFEXOR
GENERIC NAME DESVENLAFAXINE VENLAFAXINE
DRUG CLASS SEROTONIN-NOREPINEPHRINE REUPTAKE INHIBITOR (SNRI) SEROTONIN-NOREPINEPHRINE REUPTAKE INHIBITOR (SNRI)
AVAILABILITY OF GENERIC VERSIONS YES YES
APPROVED AGE OF USE 18 YEARS AND ABOVE 18 YEARS AND ABOVE
TREATMENT LENGTH 4 – 9 MONTHS 6 – 12 MONTHS
PRESCRIPTION FORMS

STANDARD DOSAGE

25 MG TABLETS, 50 MG TABLETS, 100 MG TABLETS 37.5 MG CAPSULES,

75 MG CAPSULES, 100MG CAPSULES

RISK OF WITHDRAWAL OR OVERDOSE YES YES
INSURANCE COVERAGE YES YES

Both drugs are not limited to their use as antidepressants but have other off-label functions. Though approved for use in treating depression, Pristiq is used off-label in the treatment of general anxiety disorder. Venlafaxine is also used off-label to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetic neuropathy, complex pain syndrome, etc.  However, consult your physician before attempting the off-label uses to avoid any health consequences.

Differences Between Pristiq And Effexor

Effexor is one of the best-known substitutes. Both medicines are made by the same company and are of the same drug class, SNRIs. Thus, they both have similar mechanisms of action – increasing serotonin levels in the brain. However, there are slight differences in their uses. As an antidepressant, Desvenlafaxine’s specialty is treating Major Depressive Disorder. Venlafaxine, on the other hand, treats Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Also, during a clinical trial, it was discovered that both antidepressants were efficacious, but Pristiq users had less nausea.

Pristiq vs Effexor Side Effects Comparison

Comparing Desvenlafaxine with Effexor it can be concluded that both medications have similar side effects. The side effects of Desvenlafaxine include insomnia, dizziness, excess sweating, nausea, sleepiness, and male sexual problems. Venlafaxine’s side effects include dry mouth, excessive sweating, dizziness, dry mouth, sexual problems, constipation, and decreased appetite. When these side effects occur, report immediately to a health professional for prompt attention.

Switching From Pristiq To Effexor

A doctor may recommend switching between two antidepressants if the initial drug is not effective. Studies indicate that one in three persons responds to depression treatment. So if a patient is treatment-resistant, it is time to either increase the dose or switch medications. Another reason is when the patient reacts adversely to the first antidepressant. Since the main active substance in Effexor is unprocessed, a person can react to the two drugs differently. Some patients report more severe side effects that do not go away after the initial period of adjustment.  Also, switching from desvenlafaxine to Effexor requires medical attention to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

A medical professional explains the difference between Pristiq alternatives.

Other Desvenlafaxine Alternatives

There are other alternatives of desvenlafaxine that are equally efficient. These medications can treat depression and its symptoms if Pristiq causes adverse reactions or does not work. However, these drugs can have serious side effects as well. So, it is better to consult a health professional to determine which alternative best suits the situation. This is to avoid future health complications. Here are some options of Desvenlafaxine that one can consider:

Pristiq vs Zoloft

Zoloft is another alternative to Desvenlafaxine. It belongs to the drug class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It works by increasing serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain responsible for stabilizing mood and feeling of happiness. Zoloft can be used to treat panic disorder, PTSD, and social anxiety as well as depression while Desvenlafaxine treats major depressive disorder. The side effects of Pristiq vs Zoloft are similar which include nausea, dry mouth, insomnia, fatigue, increased sweating, and restlessness. It is also one of the few Desvenlafaxine pediatric alternatives, available for children under 18 with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Pristiq vs Lexapro

Lexapro is an antidepressant that treats the symptoms of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. It is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor that is usually incredibly well-tolerated. Its mechanism of action is to block the reuptake of serotonin into the presynaptic neuron. This leads to an increase in serotonin levels. This drug can become a good substitute for the medication if a person experiences too many adverse effects of desvenlafaxine. Comparing the efficacy of Pristiq vs Lexapro, it was concluded that both medications had no significant advantage over the other. However, Lexapro seems to be a better choice if a patient suffers from depression and anxiety since it is used to treat both conditions. Contrasting the side effects of both drugs, one can conclude that they are similar. These include excessive sweating, headaches, dry mouth, insomnia, fatigue, and restlessness.

Pristiq vs Viibryd

Viibryd can be a substitute for desvenlafaxine in cases when patients don’t react well to the latter. Viibryd has a different mechanism of action than most antidepressants do, combining a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and a partial agonist of the 5-HT1A receptor. Desvenlafaxine, on the other hand, is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Both medications are equally potent for treating depression. Comparing the side effects of Pristiq vs Viibryd, both drugs seem to have similar adverse health effects with some differences. Common side effects of both medicines include nausea, dry mouth, vomiting, and insomnia. However, severe side effects of Viibryd are suicidal thoughts, aggressive or violent behavior, seizures or convulsions, etc.

Pristiq vs Wellbutrin

Wellbutrin is another effective alternative antidepressant for Desvenlafaxine. However, it belongs to a different group of antidepressants known as norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors. Thus, its MOA is different. Wellbutrin treats major depressive disorder by blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. This action leads to the increase of these neurotransmitters which helps to elevate the mood of the patient. Comparing the adverse effects of Pristiq vs Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin causes fewer sexual side effects than other antidepressants and has few to no adverse effects upon withdrawal. This makes Wellbutrin a good option for those who struggle with the withdrawal symptoms of Desvenlafaxine. Also, while desvenlafaxine has the side effect of reducing the appetite, it may be insufficient for people who overeat because of their depression. Contrasting Pristiq vs Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin can help people lose weight effectively, which makes it more suitable for some patients.

Fetzima vs Pristiq

Fetzima was approved for treating depression in 2013 by the FDA. The medicine is a selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor that works by balancing certain chemicals in the brain. In contrasting the efficacy of Fetzima vs Pristiq, there is no available study to indicate which one is more efficacious. It is, therefore, advisable to consult your physician before increasing the dose or switching medicines. When comparing the side effects of Fetzima vs Pristiq, it was discovered that Fetzima can cause significant sexual side effects in men as compared to women. It is also associated with nausea and drops in blood pressure when a person is rapidly sitting or standing up. However, do not stop taking the drug cold turkey as it may lead to complications.

Cymbalta vs Pristiq

Also known as Duloxetine, Cymbalta is a medicine useful in treating depression, anxiety, neuropathic pain, and fibromyalgia. It is a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Thus it treats depression and its symptoms by increasing the neurotransmitters, serotonin, and norepinephrine, in the brain. When Cymbalta vs Pristiq is compared, it is discovered that Cymbalta has more uses. This is because while Desvenlafxine only treats depression, Cymbalta treats pain as well. Contrasting Cymbalta vs Pristiq, the sexual side effects of the last one are incredibly hindering for many patients. Cymbalta may be a good alternative to desvenlafaxine for people who are strongly affected by sexual dysfunction, resulting from their depression medication. Compared to other antidepressants, Cymbalta is generally well-tolerated and causes fewer sexual side effects.

Different pills lie on the blue background.

Khedezla vs Pristiq

Khedezla can also be a valid alternative. Khedezla is another brand name for desvenlafaxine. Due to the same acting substance, Khedezla doesn’t provide significant benefits over other brands of desvenlafaxine. It is also a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor and works the same way desvenlafaxine does. Khedezla has not been approved for the treatment of depression in children and adolescents. Its side effects include dry mouth, dizziness, suicidal ideation, and constipation. A healthcare professional might prescribe Khedezla if the patient doesn’t find relief in other similar medications.

Trintellix vs Pristiq

Vortioxetine, marketed under the brand name Trintellix, is an antidepressant that is an SSRI. Thus it works by inhibiting serotonin in the brain to treat major depressive disorder. Trintellix can be suitable for patients who don’t respond to desvenlafaxine. Trintellix can be slightly more expensive, and it is known to cause significant sexual side effects in male patients. Trintellix may be more convenient than desvenlafaxine due to its long half-life of 66 hours. The side effects of both medications are similar to the ones mentioned above. They include nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Be sure to consult a physician before switching to Trintellix.

Pristiq vs Prozac

Prozac (Fluoxetine) is an antidepressant and its use is not restricted to the treatment of depression. The medication can also be used to treat ailments like obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, bulimia, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Therefore comparing the use of Pristiq vs Prozac, Prozac may be preferable due to its treatment of other disorders. Prozac belongs to the class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Thus comparing Pristiq vs Prozac, both medications have a similar MOA. Both treat depression by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin which results in an increase in serotonin. The two medications also share similar side effects which may include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating, seizures, and dryness of mouth.

Ask Your Doctor Before Taking Antidepressants

Patients may need to find a substitute for desvenlafaxine due to tolerance, discomforting withdrawal symptoms, or persistent side effects. Those who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant might find it beneficial to switch from desvenlafaxine to Cymbalta. Also, such antidepressants as Wellbutrin and Viibryd cause fewer sexual side effects than other medications in this category. Finally, Zoloft might be a suitable alternative for patients who are younger than 18, as this drug is approved for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder in minors.

It is not rare that people misuse their medications, intentionally or unintentionally. In such cases, it is critical to react timely to prevent abuse which may lead to addiction. If the situation goes too far, and the signs of addiction are clear, addiction centers are among the best sites to help recover. Drug abuse treatment is not easy, and not always rapid. In any case, it is worth staying sober.

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Published on: February 13th, 2020

Updated on: November 3rd, 2021

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.